"Now, I contain his majesty in a child's tooth cup!"


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Issue 12: The Necessary Ear

Issue 11: The Necessary Eye

Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears


Melissa Kirsch

Eventually The House Is Just Real Estate

I like my how my father's ended up
tentative like a comma, always on tiptoe,
embarrassing as a memoir. Look how marsupial
his soft leather briefcase: dossiers on whatever,
aborted Filofax. Now the days turn on the crossword
puzzle, one tough clue almost fills up an afternoon.

My father used to figure lucidly like a sum,
his Italian suits were irrefutable. He filled every inch
between floor and ceiling, he was an influence,
a day of reckoning, he was gravity.
You know the picture in the children's book
of the Family, symmetrical and typecast: the sun shone,
the dog heeled, dinner happened at dinnertime.
All surfaces, nuclear palimpsest, my dad was that dad.

Now, I contain his majesty in a child's tooth cup!
I did not know I wanted to pet my father until
I could, I didn't see how girlish he was! Now he's
manageable, like free time. Once he was a man
who could not utter petunia, too cute a word
for so much rumbling dark. Now, hes a garden, whose
hedges I prune. A tidy yard, brutally landscaped, shores
a silent mansion, empty corners, drawers and dust.



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Fairy Tales in Oncoming Traffic

Hardly a party when you end up either
blindfolded looking for an ass or walking
in circles to carousel accordions with the
knowledge that you could be the one left
without a chair when the music stops.

Who's really having fun? Games designed
to teach children that their dinner table
place settings are not permanent, that love
is not infinite. Houses can be unhitched
from their haunches, spin away into storm,
all puppies get snatched. Every locked closet
hides a bloodthirster who loathes you at night.

Pretty girls will break your chair, warp your
bed, polish off your porridge in a single
spoonful. Your grandmother could turn out
to be a saw-toothed wolf in a baby's bonnet.

It is not a question of if someone will get you,
only when, and the answer is always soon:
Soon you will be tossed mapless into the woods,
soon you will realize the breadcrumbs have vanished,
soon you will be gathered up in the low-hanging
limbs, whispered in for that crushing, final embrace.



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