Marcia Slatkin



Labor

It starts: a splash
stains your udder.
I see jutting neon teats.
Your grunts plead.

I stroke your nose
and offer hay
as a man’s hand
invades the space
where hooves and head
are late. He tugs

your half-born, wet,
from your womb.
Neck bells
bash your side
as you turn
to lick its feet.

One last twist
and the stall is a morgue,
your bleat a scream.
Young bones snapped,
your blood and sap
splash to the straw.

       Next day,
your milk is rich.
my fingers ache
with the taking.
I buy ducks as company,
and their twittering distracts you.

But often,
you sniff feed, lick
walls, paw the ground
for all that’s hidden, lost,
that was yours.

from A Woman Milking, Word Press, 2006


Home

When her pills can’t fill in blanks,
follow dots, cover rage with calm,
she cries for home –

fights to be there, sure
she can manage alone,
unaware that tangled clumps

          block streets between lights--
          strike coordinates of space
          and time; of goal and how to
          get to; erase recent events
          and how things connect –
          hiding all in plumes
          tangled as fleece,
          or the sticky comb of bees.

So home is the kingdom of can
that was cruelly taken --
that should still be, and would
materialize
, if we’d just let her
go there and try – let her
open wide the doors and grab,
reach, inhale all that’s waiting
to fill her open hand,
her groping mind.

from I Kidnap my Mother, Finishing Line Press, 2005


Melt

Immobile, my form
was powerfully fixed
in what they call Greenland,
my sheets for centuries
stacked within an ocean
cold enough to keep my ice
intact. I was content.
My massive presence
ruled the waves
and trapped excess,
a glassy girdle
cinching seas.

Now, heat from a savage sun
attacks me. Huge chunks
of what I feel as body,
and weighing a billion tons,
shear off and slide into the deep.
I am disfigured. I melt
and drown at once,
the ocean rising round
a self no longer strong enough
to tame its height. If I die,

my power dissolving
into liquid surge,
the sea will rise twenty feet.
Submerged, my wave-capped corpse
will spread, swirl past, seep through,
and flood all low-lying land.

The creatures with the fleshy
legs and chests, with hair
and anxious, beating hearts
will flee my reach.
In death,
I will be everywhere.

from unpublished ms, Earth Poems


About the Author
Former English teacher, backyard farmer, and care-giver to her mother, an Alzheimer patient, Marcia Slatkin now lives in Rhinebeck, plays passionate cello, takes photos, and writes: poems, fiction, one-acts, full lengths -- and even screenplays! She can be reached at mslatkin@juno.com, or see www.marciaslatkin.com.

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