M
In 80 days
 

Lucy would say my finger is poking my brain
in the eye and my teeth are chewing
my stomach. But she is eight, and knows nothing
about how sleep stands in a corner
of the bedroom thumbing its nose at me.
Lucy can sleep on a staircase, head on the top step,
hip on the next, feet on the rung below that,
strung like a ribbon of placidity.
I go to the kitchen, spread pages of yesterday’s
newspaper in a crossword puzzle on the table,
and make Easter eggs for her from balloons
wound with thin string dipped in starch.
I hear Mamma saying
All your lopsided creations are minchiata,
but Lucy believes mine’s a heavenly hand.
And who am I to argue?
 
The string is Phileas Fogg on a journey
around the balloon, but with fewer obstacles
to steal its fortune. Only the cat worries it,
batting occasionally. Nick told me a plotline
depends on the things that go wrong.
I woke that morning in bed with him
dead, his shoulder pressing my arm,
deflated on a fistful of needles and pins.
Diabetes is a real trip not a destination,
he’d quip. What would he say about traveling
around a balloon at night
without some sort of stopping point?
Lucy materializes from her room to break the plate
of darkness, the bounce-back ability
of rubber balls riding on a yellow blanket
that trails her like a duckling in love.
 
She climbs her usual chair
like she scales our backyard mulberry.
Her blood glucose is low, so we drink
orange juice together. The everyday
accompaniment of scrambled eggs and milk,
bacon and toast are too far away at two
in the morning. What would she have done
if she’d known the consequence
of following too closely in a father’s footprints?
Perhaps fetuses who run away
from the womb too soon
are only saying no. Her lazy eye
wanders left as if half of her believes her right
to choose rolled under the refrigerator.
She brings air to a shrunken balloon
with the smallest puffs of life.
There is starch in her hair and an impulse
to fix it. Where does Phileas go next,
Lucy wants to know. Minchiata, my child.
Balloons burst inside a dozen eggs
until all that remains is string.