HAYLEY R. MITCHELL
At the bookstore in Pedro
The 1s are white, you consider them first:
your mother's fresh laundered curtains
she's using to flip sausage squares
she'll freeze for Christmas
jingling in the corner
the doctor's coat
with your mother's name on it
the little lab box
with a "one" in the middle
the second hand on the kitchen clock
making its way half-way around
The 2s are orange, and of course, more difficult:
your mother's apron
tied gently around her waist
the coiled burners
the skin bubble raising on your motherís wrist
where the grease spat out and scorched her
ringing, ringing in the corner
the glow off the doctor's scope
the "two" on the chart
the minute hand
jumping forward like it does
for the fifth time
The 3s are red, they bleed into everything:
the damn phone
screaming in the corner
the doctor's scalpel handle
your mother, flushed
as she pulls the chair around
the scuff it makes on the kitchen floor
circled and threatening
on the OR schedule
sizzling on the stove, burning itself rancid
bursting open at the seams
he approaches us, asks,
may I take pictures
while you are reading?
We think, Press? Reviewer?
Poet stalker? Freak?
He looks harmless enough.
We ask, where will they end up?
Oh, you know, he says, nowhere,
they may sit, undeveloped.
We are dubious. We donít encourage him.
When we read, we hold our heads down
as he peers through the eyepiece,
we donít smile, donít articulate
in his direction, but wonder
if they are black and white
and if our noses are shining.
At the end of the evening,
as we try to escape,
he corners us,
asks for headshots. Together,
we insist, pulling close, as women do.
Closer, he says, and it is then
we feel it, resent being captured
in the black box he will take home with him.
This is the one I shot Ginsberg with,
he says, the zoomlens pulsing
towards us, heavy in his eager, guiding hand.
We stiffen against each other,
control our laughter or anger.
We think of the words of our poems
swirling through his head:
vagina, breast, one large ball;
we wonder what heíll do with them.
Hayley R. Mitchell
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