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David Greenspan || From Milk Sickness


From Milk Sickness
 
 
Noise brays in the girl’s chest, the sound of a child, much like a cat, kneading another’s skin. Gluenoise, how strange it is to hear from my body, she thinks. A day of rain and salt, she thinks. She births three children of her own – the oldest a girl, the youngest a boy, the middle a carousel.
 
Today, yellow flower television. Today, the girl’s eyelids heavy with honey. Today, the children’s first steps. They are a self-portrait of her thigh’s drip. I must skin a holy man, she thinks, and place his viscera atop their heads.
 
The boy and girl build a house of misplaced limbs for their children. Inside, smoke rises, light disappears into soil. The children run wild. They say Mother, Father, do not think for one second we are anything but your harvest of hipbone.
 
The youngest doesn’t smile once or even twice as the oldest plays with his favorite dogtooth. Sedatives bloom inside his gut like a choir of daylight. Stare now often and stare now long, the boy whispers to his children. Stare now until my grin is cigarette, he whispers to his children.
 
The boy today thinks of gospel choir, of stitching his throat to a cantor. He today thinks of opening his throat with a carving knife.
 
The middle child prays at the bottom of a swimming pool, hidden from a terrible color growing in its mouth. The middle child does not listen when the boy and girl say Water, no blood. The middle child does not listen when God as it understands God says This worship pours over you with its filthy hands, its uncertain keel.
 
The children entertain doctors while the boy’s skin is removed for milk money. The boy’s relatives send cards which read Our teeth are heavy with salt for your recovery. They send their underwear dirty, their veins pristine. The youngest child says O father, let me invent language for your surgery – piano meat, matchstick bone.
 
Let me gorge myself, the oldest child thinks, on marshmallow tender stitched to my mother’s thigh. She thinks Underneath my feet are wasp stingers and what crunch. All she says – I will chew her lungs as pretty balloons turn to pretty music.
 
Soon, elephant summer. The children play in a forest of plums. They drink each other’s birthmarks like sweet bathwater. As the sky fills with wires, the oldest makes a birdhouse of her hair. Remember, the boy asks, when the sky turned to glue and everything else also turned to glue? I remember, the girl replies, when the sky was a light bulb naked and violent.
 
Once their children are asleep, the boy chews the girl’s teeth like hard candy full of beeswax. All the hair from his face grows delicate between her legs. He is happiest when this hair moves through his gut. He is happiest when she sewing needles raw muscle.
 
Fever stains grow beneath the children’s skin. Their thoughts jaundiced, their throats ripe from huffing glue. The children are ghost stutter inside their parents’ lungs. Soon, an exit sign’s red light, a chest with no music.
 
 
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David Greenspan helps edit Birdfeast, an online quarterly of delicious poetry. He is the author of two chapbooks, i tried to bear the elephants and lost (NAP), and THEN (Turtleneck Press). His writing has recently appeared in Hobart and West Branch. Find him online at DavidGreenspan.blogspot.com.