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Village Women Explain Hubris to Me After I Fall Down a Flight of Stairs

Baby, the cunning mechanism
of the clavicle is that when it snaps, it is never a clean break,
for if it is, the healing time is so boring,

much more, what’s the word,
sedentary. A fresh break should resound, a bow
in the sky making thunder, even in your heavy bones.

Maybe hubris is the female fig wasp married to the fig,
afraid to die in its vesicles, but too smitten
to escape. No, that is not hubris, little one, because

instead of skinning its knees, hubris shows all its fat, muscle,
and bone. Humans know that term–sharing.
Today, you’re cuffed at the temple by lightning, just this once.

Sweetie, let me back up—have another cookie—
the male wasp hatches inside an ovary inside an unborn
fig, he dies burrowing his way out, he dies fucking

to please his gods. His lady-sidekick slits him dead
with her blade-wings. It pleases the senators
of evolution, and the senators take a vote – they do not

consult us, little bird. Isn’t the cunning
mechanism of power how we siphon it anyway, prize open
a suitcase’s latches, press the linens we find inside like swaths of sky?

Hubris does not mean failure. It means
you keep mum when a roaring few roar, so let them.
Quietly, quietly, learn your trade.

Spend your time defying the rain, the orange lights
of intersections. String them into a necklace
of tiny suns. Pet your wax, your feathers. Hubris means pass.

Pass is a sunburn vanishing too soon. The tips of your ears
are scorched– again, the gods pass you.
Pass is a word you’ll learn in flesh.

A shark’s skin
ripples past your skin. A broken tooth washes from your jaw
to the shoreline. You will pass–better, slip. From a dead sheath
of pantyhose. Into false eyelashes.

Through vesicles
of hallways constricted with drunks, photographs, the delicious
tightness of a waist made from zippers. If you do pass out,

do it as a point of pride. When the gods see us
outgrowing our underwire, they smite us
as we stitch new ribs from Goretex, boules, wickets

because we do what they cannot–
die. Death is a cousin of failure. We invite Death (silently, invisibly):

The shower, kitchen. The road trip to pick up new lovers
where you hydroplane at eighty miles an hour. To all the death
scenes we prepare for ourselves again and again.
Posted 04/19/12
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