Many yesterdays were baking days—plump mouthfuls.
Not the woods, but a suburb of Philly
where grandparents worship,
where they put a second mortgage on their home
to build a sanctuary.
We begin with a girl named after her outfit.
Everyone knew about the teacher,
but the little pot of butter did not understand the dangers.
Gathering nuts, making nosegays,
counterfeiting her voice:
the wolf thereby provided with his dinner.
His appetites evaporated his baptism. In remedy,
the elders splashed him again.
Listening to stories next to Grandmother on the wood-plank bed:
you must change the ending,
you must whisper without crumbs.
Precocious girls preach all the rules.
I say wolf but
hymns and ruffled stockings. Potlucks
and prayer circles. Call and response.
Mr. Smoothie stares,
gives you piña colada for free.
You get to burn from every angle.
Doctors order you to practice
appearance: be mirrors reflecting objects in the mall.
Everyone knows diagnoses are fluid,
equilibrium is elusive.
Fear only becomes mental illness if it causes her harm.
A shrinking Minnie Mouse skort
activates a growth spurt.
Choose a fence that enhances your mood
for hearing sermons. Flicker liturgically in a food court.
Even the waxy cups are watching. It’s dark inside a wolf.
She could write an essay on any subject
and in such a vacuum as to preserve fruit.
Pacific Coast flaunts sprightly and flippant
charms. I believe I am asexual, multi-colored houses.
Speechless and clumsy,
I never know what will happen.
with the idea of kissing,
but shaky on what may follow, she would disdain
that level of admiration.
The earth quakes during palm readings.
I want to become her drive-in church.
Tectonic plates move constantly, but they move slow:
when stress overcomes friction, tongues of fire happen.
He tells me he likes to read, and I dust off my shelves.
I tell him I have not kissed anyone, and he rapes me.
The refrigerator hums a lattice of mindless crumbs. Looked into
trips back a serrated gasp. Looked into
I dart open.
If you can’t stand the first person,
get out of the kitchen.
Similar but escalating sleights of hand:
he wants to eat both the girl and the food in her basket.
She is past specialness,
doubling the likelihood. In such young women,
till Christmas ribbon. The greatest predictor of red
in the bakery.
The clothed wolf kisses my hand on bended knee.
I twist the knots just so, and they become bows.
I set the table, queasy.
Wolf-bait wears a red past.
It’s impossible to be continuous.
Before, during, and after,
I am a bread basket.
I am numerous, nebulous clouds.
Alarms come and go. Smoke
Home is full of windows and pillows.
Fog overwhelms cyclists,
squints for deer.
My beloved gave me a red-tendrilled succulent
after an argument.
We reconceive as romantic comedy—Pretty Woman
with Protestantism instead of prostitution: I think it’s wrong
when she buys me all the dresses. She thinks it’s exotic
when I drop a fork down my nightgown.
Adept with reins, she says yes
when a cowboy asks if I’m her girlfriend,
daughter, bestie, or wife.
There’s an active volcano—
we venture by land and air,
by sea and lava tube.
A phantom tooth requires dainty gnawing:
sedate the person who owns it.
She enjoyed seamless sleep because I didn’t even scream.
A curious beast caught some hurt, risking its body
for what reward? An upset
at every step.
before lips crystalized,
Lava here moves vegetarian.
People and animals run to escape.
You may not smother them. (Reboot compassion.)
nap in perfect traps.
eat their own discarded exoskeletons.
When flashlights fail:
rest your head on your forepaws.
Words practice total darkness.
If you told someone you are caving,
lava straws and lavacicles point their toes like helpful arrows.
Do not lean against the slime.
The slime is alive.
You would kill it.
It was too loud and bright inside the wolf. The oven timer
wants up out of the earth.
Basket fern. I need to eat something in order to continue.
Even the creeping herbs brandish grooves.
You are not supposed to stir, but zeal
Reaching preludes viscous fires,
hissing coral reefs.
Waves tilt their heads
to kiss the red edges.
lapse into kitsch and steam. I am ashamed
of my passion. Hazards stroke a Leviathan,
and the pleasure is mine. I feel,
and I need to know.
Essay in the Bathtub
Isn’t the water supposed to be blue? Gilded drapery
gives way to a shower curtain. An iPhone playlist
replaces cupid’s conch.
Any naked woman near any body of water
breaks symmetry with ripples,
with whiskey on rocks.
all sexual parts at once. I spy
Painters pink a model
with carefully licked brushes.
If there were two of her, they’d splash
There’s more to the composition,
but a sponge can only absorb so much.
Blue dress drips by the sink. Steam and a song flirt
with faucet rhythms. Dogs bark
jagged purples. When I picture her here, kissing
swells to duration.
I bring a cold drink
when I take a warm bath.
secondhand lilac dress, once-worn shoes. I trip and walk.
rarely, paging through
her portfolio, stalling on a close-up of an ex’s breast.
Questions stay folded
while we order dinner.
I kiss her
for more information.
for weeks after.
She texts photos—
a six-foot bathtub
next to her bed.
to streamlets. Muscles comply; they let me be soft.
The city, a bachelorette party—
too hoarse, too neon—
I kiss her all evening to elevate time.
me awake. Climb a ladder.
Consult the well tank. Half of a tree
must fall. Quick
spiders: they climb the bath.
drove me here,
my ears popped. Fearful, but
big dogs chin-rest on my lap.
Practice calm: breath unlocks a wiry cage;
a bowl of ice chills reflex protests.
I am musical glasses.
If I say stop,
Her kindness runs to pendants;
I writhe away.
A thermally sensitive, sinister
my everyday dark ocean would cuddle you.
when she draws a fragrant bath.
suggest the bather may sleep
or awaken. I drop off
before she pours me a glass.
We lose power. Frogs rise
to a fresh pond. Scented candles burn to perfume
we wouldn’t buy.
No clawfeet, but pillows, the possibility
Shoulders born from suds.
Pages turned by a wet finger.
I know you like to read in the tub.
You’ll mar me if you kiss me.
Cold plunge. I mean
you might want to kiss me.
A five-inch scar on my right knee. Temperatures changing
rapidly. Petunias bite my lip. Spices muss
your cowlick. Thighs and towels,
the imprint of thumbs. Swamp pink. Bookish
casts off glasses,
a feisty splash.
Isn’t the water supposed to be doll-eyed?
I’m saying we should take a bath.