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Animal Nature

ISSUE:  Autumn 1981
When my mother mulls on the nature
of angels, ether, and clouds, I put
down my fork and study a fly,
its wingtips on my mutton chop,
before me a stack of plates to be

wiped clean like words on a slate.
Even in silence as I do the work,
I lose an argument to her, I, her
bastard daughter.

Slice off her head, tie up her tongue.
Tell her she’s another captive to
the broodings of daughters eating
their mothers’ grievances.

“We’ll all arrive in a world of light
beyond desire,” she goes on to explain
how faith gives way to perfect love
in the afterlife.

Sometimes, when I see her
in the mirror, full-breasted and
intense, I start to believe
I was made from her animal nature.
My mother in the looking glass, behind
her the dark like an idle rumor
of nothingness devouring our lives.


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