Two Poems: 2001 & Barbie
There was no space odyssey.
Instead, more than towers fell
in the city where I live.
People were still counting
paper scraps in Florida
for the sake of a flawed process.
People were still dying
in Gujarat’s earthquaked cracks
in Ghana’s stampeded stadiums
and in the summer of the media
calling shark attacks on Santa Rosa
a national security threat.
The Taliban’s advent, McVeigh’s execution
for destroying what seemed an entire city.
I had just turned seven.
For my birthday, my mother
bought me a Beatles CD.
Later that year, George Harrison died—
my favorite one, the one
who sang about how all things must
come to an end. But
how were endings possible
in a new millennium? New
Wikipedia, where we learned
how to summarize. New Nokia,
new Madonna, even language felt
refreshed: A.I., iTunes, OS X, Xbox.
It was the first time I broke my arm
in two separate places. I visited the zoo
and watched the animals roar at each other,
and at themselves. My mother dispelled
Santa Claus, perhaps a year too soon
for my imagination to take. I cried
until I received extra presents
for keeping the secret from my sister.
I saw myself in the Backstreet Boys,
in the highest rated Super Bowl in history,
as Harry Potter, whether philosopher
or sorcerer. Everything still felt possible
to a seven-year-old, who had just
heard about the first tourist in space
and thought it was an odyssey.
I comb my hair with a small hairbrush.
I no longer walk in nature. And when
I sit on the front porch, sipping
whatever’s left from the mason jar
filled with all that last night, I flick
the maggots from my skin.
The parked car outside the house
sits with its tarped over cover since before
I remember. I remember
playing dolls with my sister
while my father wedged a football
into my hands, and said
you must throw as far as you can.
Open wide, my arms onto the wheel
where I learned how a man
drives five miles above the limit.
It was cold that first Kentucky,
where I first kissed masculine lips,
wet as leather, chapped the way
we hid from what we learned
in locker rooms. We grazed the sides
of our heads against the Cypress bark.
While we leaned against its trunk, I saw
pigs in the distance, wrestling
in the nightmud. They cannot know
how soon they will be separated, then skinned.