Three Poems

Written One-handed While Breastfeeding

Stray howls test
                       the city’s halo.

Aprons of women
           flutter the desert

           with their children’s mouths
and god on their strings

and every time I try
                      to set you down

you clamp to me
           like an anemone,

                                 anchor me
to this bed near a harbor.

           The bored snores of stealth
submarines barely ripple

our double-paned glass. The moon
                      sweeps the room like a swat team.

(my foot’s been numb 
for an hour now)

Two Nights in Room Nineteen

Twin queens tucked neat as presents.
The milk in my breasts hardens like evidence.

How many heroines have died for such a room?
But there is no gas noosing its slow lasso, no arsenic

burlesquing feather-light negligees. Only snow
mothed to plate-glass, a breast pump’s

hydraulic rasp. The black television snaps
a still-life: Madonna without child. Milk froths

from my breasts. When my daughter drinks
she retreats so deep beneath the luminosity

of her skin. I am custodian of every crease
and pore, fine-toothed comb of her toes, yeasty folds

in her neck. Milk defrosts in a distant kitchen.
She accepts her bottles like evidence. A physicality

to this disconnect, like the gloaming after sex.
Her father softening against my thigh, smooth

and gelatinous as some shy creature
haunting a deep-sea crevice. I thought of that

when they slapped her brined boneless body
to my chest. The first time a man came

in my mouth I didn’t know what to do
with all that living gratitude. I ran to the bathroom

like a bulimic. Since then my body has learned
how to give thanks, a lesson it can never forget. 

My breasts cool in their silk mesh.
I flush the milk like evidence.


My Mother's Thighs

Like a beach where texture lures the light, a thousand footprints populate them.
Rippling across bands of lawn chair, they sigh as the sun deflates them.

My mother's thighs, nomad bees that hum a hive with nothing
but their bodies, they shift with the wave that creates them.

On the diving board, her flesh cascades the packed-clay silence
of her femur. I stare, transfixed, before I know how much she hates them.

Slack in their fascia sheath, they test their tendon leash, clutch
ilium cliffs, scale each knotted vertebrae. No tension tames them.

Her thighs rise a rib-cage ladder, fan out from scapular nubs,
mimic the clavicle's wingspan. The air awaits them.

They pulse against her jeans, slosh like water in bucket,
sometimes I can't resist reaching out to shake them.

She says don't worry Sweetie, you have your Auntie's legs, legs tapered
like a blade, Barbie's perpetual stiletto daggers, no alchemy in them.

Her thighs hung before me, bright and various as gnats above a river,
until a glossy ad in a magazine named them so I could fear them.

—Erin Rodoni, San Diego, CA