A New Poem

Here’s “The Night of My Conception,” published in 2013 in Room’s Issue 36:4.

Before me, my mother had three sons,
one right after the other, delivered
in September, their penises soft
as the butter-coloured tassels
on corn stalks, planted
in steadfast rows.
Their scrotums drawn
tight, like pouches pulled taut
on branches to keep marauding
bears from picnics. Boys: so
definite, packaged, minds made up.

Maybe the Yuletide punch was to blame;
just for him on New Year’s Eve,
three times in a row, she’d worn
her Annie Get Your Gun costume,
brandished an antique revolver.
Last time, he’d even caught her on camera.
She may as well have bugled in
the testosterone. This year, she’d refused.
How to distract the sperm’s javelin thrust?
Patsy Cline? When he mowed the lawn,
he sang “I Fall to Pieces” like a requiem.
(Patsy had died just days after their wedding.)
Mother knew she couldn’t hold the room
like Patsy, whose Cross-Your-Heart
bra was as instrumental as her song.
Not Mom, who had lost her skirt
on stage enacting a Helen Keller tantrum.

In the autumn before my May arrival,
Mother lined her empty basket
with one of her skirts, apple-green, covered
in trilliums (flowers too rare to pluck);
she took Father to a local market, passed
him Early Girl tomatoes, pressed
the grassy scent of round-bottomed
pears to his nose, tucked the violet
oblong of eggplant into the crook
of his elbow. They came home,
the basket overflowing. That night,
he gestured out the bedroom window. Look,
he said, the old moon is holding
the new moon in its arms.

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