Soap


It is full bitter winter when I begin

to bleed. Too ashamed to tell. Aligning myself

with the crows I take the back way home.

Pages of book reports blown down the hill.

What constitutes anger is passion plus a disappointment

of hopes. Bad math. The body plus the smell

of burning. The Pine-Sol ghost of the school hall

and early mornings I can’t wake up. The fluorescent

bulb was invented for us, and the closed window.

Moths hatching from the oatmeal. I have the most tender

feeling and nowhere to apply it. Superstitious, I walk

only where the path is most difficult, stack my pennies

by year, nurse a private longing for fancy soaps.

Monthly this extra thing I can’t use, and meanwhile

so much else I can’t have. Candles lit

on the windowsills when my mother can’t pay

the electric bill. We make the best of it, all that soft light.

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