BY MICHELLE CHAN BROWN
Perhaps she missed being the subject of discussion.
Once she was a drop of dark blood in a man’s water
glass. Once, she made the primary artery in his neck
botch a tango. Daughters give you power that saps
your power, the sun sunk into the young plant’s
sturdy tendons. The mother knits guilt tight into
a sweater, a feast for moths. What can she serve
except the diluted world in a cup of bone?
The world is not for the dedicated delicates.
Perhaps she was glad to see her daughter go,
her life will be a purse cleaned of Kleenex, old receipts
from half-remembered restaurant fights, the mints’
silvery foil, the private line of the pediatrician.
The young men waited in her lobby, fiddled
her steak knives, took her money with the grace
of ponies. The mothering softly circled her ankle
at the moment when she was prepared to mount
some sun-drenched stair. A luxury to allow
the cleaned fruits to remain uneaten, to recline
in rooms fragrant with their spoil. Let hell tie
his silk ascot tight around his handsome throat
and crook his little finger. Naked under her robe,
three fingers of bourbon in the coffee, she swings
the hose with the blunt force of the universe.
She’s watering the corpses of the buried pets.
No, she’s drowning the plants.
Michelle Chan Brown’s Double Agent was the winner of the 2011 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, Tampa Review, Witness, and others. Her chapbook, The Clever Decoys, is available from LATR Editions. She earned her MFA at the University of Michigan and lives with her husband in Washington, D.C., where she writes, teaches, and edits Drunken Boat.