“The soft changeling”
They went in as lemon.
They came out as squid.
I slide the muffins from the oven wondering
if I can serve changelings at church.
K is yammering about handstands—as if. . .
as if she is young and lithe, but I hear only
a pecking at this loofah orb that has surrounded
me all morning.
Before the coffee, before the bagel, before
the jagged email, I power-walked a vacuum
poem, feeble and leashed.
Picking at the sweet hot squid I wonder why
memories can’t be neutral.
Long ago, I learned how to brandish a hot
poker whenever the Polaroids of G surfaced
from the ancient crevices in my mind, I learned
to wield two or three to ward off the see-saw
memories—my nemesis of this still life.
I ask and ask myself why can’t the written
word be neutral? Why are writers taught to
emote or elicit emotion? It’s heart abuse.
I rub lemon ink from my palms and think I
hear her collapsing in the grass—laughing.
She was a scramble of a girl in Indian braids
and clovers—thief of my room, thief of my sleep,
now thief of my peace.
She did everything soft—she coddled, she sang,
she read with singsong flutters like Gretal in a
cotton white nightgown, but was never coddled,
never sung to, never read to. . .
When we played Tom Sawyer in the basement
she played Becky with a gentle lisp, when we
twirled in canoes on Minnesota lakes she flew
with the loons and evening meteors.
she chose the snow she loved,
the silence of the aspens in the
Utah mountains, the quilted
blanket found in her car,
accepting of the lies
set in stone inside her soul.
K pecks, I mold warm changelings
wedged in this vacuum of G’s soft resignation.