It’s fall already and I feel petty—scared—trapped in a life squandered on too much television.
the watch’s hands
It seems too late in the year for lady bugs to be hatching, I think, as their squirming, pulsating red blooms from the weeds, life billowing uncontrollably outwards. Tiny jewels beading the dry grasses, the mule’s ear and checker mallow, along the path beside the woods. And I haven’t had my period in months. One hand laying against my belly as I gather tinder. Then I feel it—too tight, low, heavy. Too something. I shift and my fingers come away wet from between my legs.
I imagine snow white
The emergency room. The white-noise hum of fluorescent lights. There’s a man pacing anxiously, an elderly couple seated in the corner, and a young mother with her daughter beside her—red lines running up her chubby, little girl leg. Stop scratching, says the mother. But the girl’s fingers are planted, roots against the crust, finding their balance. Here, take my hand, the mother finally says. The child holds tight. An oak tree growing from the decaying tree beneath.
the bobcat—a great hunter
or a dancer
when she grows up
I look at my own hands, already so old and wrinkled. Did they smoke? Or sit out in the sun? Did they laugh or frown too much? Or preserve themselves with drugs and alcohol into that Iggy Pop-Aerosmith-Rolling Stones look? Or did they just waste too much time in dish water? I spread my fingers and stretch my palm taut, turning my life line red like an artery.
an apple pie cooling
on the still warm oven
Soon I’m swaddled in a pastel hospital gown made of the softest—strongest—cotton I’ve ever felt. Warm. Free. Drifting to sleep between the mechanical heartbeats… six months later. Again a hospital bed, my husband’s hand. I can do this, I think. She’s so tiny… and even though she’s squirming horribly at my touch, I know she needs me. And the truly great ones are never famous until after they’re dead anyway.
a new mother
licking her kittens clean