201 Readings

My Girlhood Apothecary

It hurt at first, having a body. My new skin itching
like an opened wound, like the daylilies splitting

the soil beside the shed. Now I lay each morning
beneath this moth-pocked canopy. I remember Father

in his milk truck, Mother in the hen house, spilling grain
and pocketing eggs. Inside the nursery, kittens

stalked the babies sleeping in their bassinets. That house
was where I learned to name the world

correctly. Learned lobelia, chrysanthemum, narcissus,
forsythia. Which flowers poison and which

to use for garnish. I learned that when I loved you
I didn’t need to eat. Spent one year there

a hysterical mute. So tell me again how for years all I did
was disappoint. Tell me again - I dare you, sweet - that she’s

the one who loves you better. Each time I travel back to you
your cheeks are thinner, your touch more brittle.

Posted 09/04/14
Previously published in Best New Poets 2011, edited by D.A. Powell
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