Tracy Singer
Wanda’s Courtship

Like those just-hatched chickens,
we’re pleading for cover:
mother wing, comfort feathers.

Because so new, my body tries
to try you on. First, it smoothes
the weave of your chest, then I search
for the impeccable seam of your sex.
Your hand cradles my neck hard,
to stop my teetering around: Don’t make me
late for work
, you said, but
what hindrance is a lever to its weight?

I find the master thread beneath your skin,
its haste to acquiesce sweet, and my mouth’s
filled until some angels sing your name.
You dress, I cook, you run
out the door with a triangle of toast
in your mouth, humming through it:
Hie me home, or hide me away . . .
In bed alone, I take cover with the farm.
Wanda’s Secret

All my life’s been a routine, has since they spanked
my lungs clean and gave me to the breast. First, being fed,
then feeding my father’s pigs, Harvey’s chickens,
his babies until they’d grown. But in grade school,
I won that pageant, they put me on a bus for State.
I’d never worn makeup, but County called to hire a consultant.
She did my colors and hair up like Hepburn.
I didn’t cry like the others when the crown went to someone in-town.
My duties, I’d had to get back to them, and the stuff
felt thick on my face anyway, though the lighting guy’d winked.
My legs crossed tighter without me knowing why.
Mother, her face round in the window as the bus went away,
I wanted to see it again. I never wanted different. But now,
grandchickens peck at my ankles, three times I painted his barn,
once he said I love you, and Your hips’ve tripled, not that it bothers me.
Still, I snuck three dollars from the bureau and opened a P.O. box
downtown. Ordered from the Avon catalog for Spring, shred it for compost after.
Lunch with Denise, After Our Garden Club Meeting

Denise tells me that she is good in bed. That she is good because when she is in his bed, she is so inside herself that there is no self anymore. I nod like I understand and ask her where she goes. Denise says, When he looks at me, it’s through a kaleidoscope. I imagine shatterings of brownish-pink skin, hair, and the cut-up mouth and breast. Denise is round through her goblet. But in the kaleidoscope, a body is broken without having been broken. I nod to that logic and examine my hands. I examine my arms, breasts, midsection, jambs, and feet. I touch my head because I can’t see it. I wouldn’t want to break even if it was painless. Denise forks her salad’s flower then points the tines at me—You’re thinking crazy thoughts again, aren’t you?
Denise Reads Me the Riot Act

Denise says I thought you were supposed to be deep. (I am.) She alternates her nailtips on the table and pushes the point. Why, then, don’t you write about something serious and direct, like pain? I’m staring into the minigrid of the linen napkin. I am wondering how many flecks of salt will fit in this square. This seems deep to me, something I can dive into and emerge on the other side of an hour. Because I am silent so long, she thinks I’m angry. But pain is too everywhere for me to write about, though I don’t tell her, too beautiful.