Requiem / Take Your Daughter to Work

Requiem

Jared Lane is the black puff of smoke and rubber when a
tire blows. He boogaloos West Road for tips, footsore and
sticky as the scent of butterscotch to Jim Studebaker in
front of The Emporium – June, 1977.
He never takes tips nor wears suits, just grooves. The street
smells of tar and his smoking career. Taillights burnish his
face red, a flatbed truck hauling gold-plated caskets and
stained vaults. “The greater the amount of tin in a
nonferrous alloy, the lower the flowing temp.” This
construction site melts on his tongue so next week he won’t
go home, but will nest lukewarm on pavement and hum to
the tune of backhoes. He will eat that last banana, ignoring
when it talks back to the spiffy suspect of wishes who zings
us with his duffle. Honey totally gets Libera me, Domine,
de morte aeterna,/ in dia illa tremenda
when all traffic
stops.

Take Your Daughter to Work

Aquarium in the corner with a single aplysia,
transplant of some distant California tidal pool— no
gravel bottom, plants or fluorescent light, just
glass around my mother’s hand dipped in cool water
to grasp the slug which jetted purple ink for
protection, her large-neuroned captive.

Later that Crayola morning, Wonder Woman coloring
book and a stack of DC Comics spread across the
black soapstone counter in her lab, her fascination
with cells never quite translated when I preferred
story, a woman who deflected bullets with her wrists,
an Amazon island forbidden to men, a goddess
religion. Princess Diana’s Oh-Great-Hera!-preamble-
to-battle felt less remote than nuclei, molecules, less
scary than Mom’s scalpel-hands which slit the belly of
a conscious mouse. Memory of her conviction, the
scientific thrill of its heartbeat in open air, its size as
her fingertip lifted it, a moment sacred to her as
Sunday mass while I dug at my guts, at that chipped
counter, to find a proper reaction, whatever emotion
she apparently needed to see in that large, bright room
with no windows,and then
the thirty years it took me to say “Thank you.”


Michelle L. Brown’s poems have appeared in So to Speak, The New Orleans Review, Pinyon, PMS, Concho River Review, and The Awakenings Review. She is the managing editor of The Barker’s Voice: A Journal of Arts and Letters, and she teaches at Lone Star College – CyFair in Cypress, Tx.

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