Beneath a buzz of
fluorescence, eyelids puff,
pupils contract protesting
glare. Stripes snake
around the couch, and three,
escaped, slither over walls.
Those walls, white now,
are chipped by hinges
behind the door, hinting at
a hidden cave of stalactite blue.
Stripes yet no pictures, clock,
or thumbed copies of Time.
Any other doctor's office says
No Smoking. But here, beside
restroom key, an ashtray
reeks, offers bouquet of
wrinkled white buds. Across
on the writhing couch, blinking
and inhaling is
a crazy-eyed woman. Do I --
knuckling pen -- look crazed
to her? Blood vessels constrict,
lungs burn. I want to stand,
strain, belay from
that room; yet I will myself
to wait for a chipped-away
version of the child
who would shrink herself
from this suffocating, blue-green,
thin-fat, multi-striped hell.
(an untranslatable French idiom)
sometimes seems to be a compliment
hinting at bite and piquancy.
Then probing deeper I suspect
it's only another way of pointing out
the sleek creature a man might hope to tame
or teach to fetch
one who can learn on command
come, sit, stay, lie down, shake hands
someone to pet but one
content with bones tossed in her direction
one who will roll
to expose soft underside of belly
and she'll follow his lead
walk by his side, offer protection
bring the newspaper
accept scraps, beg for treats, for affection
lick him with her rough pink tongue
invite him to enter from behind
warm his hearth and bed
while waiting for him to reappear
obey, fetch, speak when prompted
know her place
and beyond all, akin to the wolf, be
dangerous, capable if roused of sinking
fine white fangs into his civilized, taut
Du chien has possibilities,
but it does when used by a man
still mean doggy and, also, bitch...
AT FOUR IN THE MORNING
at four in the morning, my children come
scratching, slithering beneath
the bedroom door where they lick my ears,
make fingers itch, squeeze at my breast;
disembodied, they beg to be mothered.
at four in the morning, my children screech
nagging me to nurse them then shake them
off the tit so they can swarm out
and sting other people's sleeping breasts.
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