The morning had been grimy
no dew pinched our ears
a persistent roughness ate at our cuffs
the afternoon we swore would be different
we would take pains we would see to it
We stuffed time into a bloody thimble
carried by the scruff of the neck we got away
some of our mouths hammered hymn
some suckled past their hairwork veils
the thimble we made sure to leave in broad
let it shimmer and limp, grandfathered in
Alone won't stop playing
Alone pretends to be someone
Alone is lo and behold, un-beheld.
Alone will be heading to its beheading
alone. The self’s shelves of rib and shore,
itch and spore, waddle forth,
two people trying to parade as one horse.
The hours knock about inside them.
They cannot move like a horse.
Alone is baloney, is a loan,
a mortgage whose root
that means dead
won’t hide. Dead pledge.
Alone will hem, and haw, and hedge
at itself, a balcony loitering
after the building
The difference between rats and mice
has to do with the structure of their teeth.
According to my dental receipt, the
films bitten down on during x-rays are called bitewings.
I began menstruating in a waiting room.
My grandmother was being fitted for new dentures.
My tongue is not precise enough to
count all my teeth; the bottom front ones blur.
Teeth are not quite bone.
The box at work said CELLO WRAPPED
Though the box was very small, there was
a brief rising
in me and a lurch as I realized that
cello was short
I’m reading a biography of a writer
who was very private.
The biographer notes that in a car
accident in Paris,
the writer damaged her teeth, which
were in poor shape already.
In thirteen of the book’s photographs
of her, her mouth is closed.
Her lips are parted in one, and she
is a baby.
Instructions on how to draw lips mostly discuss
light and say
you will often want to make the corners of the
mouth very dark.
Harper lives in Atlanta, GA. Her chapbook Guarding the Violins
published by the Poetry Society of America in 2005.
Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/poetry/harperm_poems.php