Wednesday Poem

Taxonomies: Me, Too


Marshmallow-thick ski gloves.
A pair strung from toddler sleeves.
Lost mate waving from a puddle.
The snapped rubber glove that splits open
on the orthodontist’s hand. Ever had
one break on you, dear? he sneers,
his breath hot in my teen-girl ear.

II. Late Arrivals

The every-other-weekend father,
daughter at the window practicing
times tables on glass fogged
with breath. In summer: the moon.
In winter: the sun. The girl’s date,
the one with a blown muffler and rough
hands. The next month: her blood.

III. Things That Slide

Girl on the playground,
the steel mirror-polished
by the seat of her pants.
Houses after pummeling
rains. Tears. Unwelcome
words about your breasts
from men you pass. Years.

IV. Smiles

Ambiguity tugging the seams of Mona Lisa’s lips.
Helen of Troy, for surely it wasn’t a scowl
that launched a thousand ships. Smile more, say men,
always men. But my mouth’s default is a grin.
Classic American smile, proclaims my dentist.
What does he mean? Unrestrained? Too much? Larger
than life? When he says open wider, I want to bite.

by Erin Murphy
from Contrary Magazine