Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grandmother's Tattoo 4

Chewing on words like camp, railroad, gold teeth.

Little snot go wipe your nose
or Mr. Potato Head will plant a carrot between your toes.

She wakes up to a day that is half night,
morning throws off a purple bathrobe.

Birch trees point trunks
like arthritic fingers in different directions.

Hungry. She combs her hair with two fingers,
jumps on the skateboard to hunt for breakfast.

Mountains breathe an ancient cold in her face,
which makes her think of pancakes,

yeasty bubbles erupting from a warm skillet
with the sweet smell of maple syrup.

She steers down an aisle hoping to find a food court,
bends her knees and waves her hands, a thrasher,

leans toward a clearing with white tents
surrounded by grave markers and live peacocks.

Her gold wheels screech to a halt. A woman
whose flesh is attached to her arms in pasty lumps
steps out to meet her.

Maggie throws caution through a window, and breaks silence.
She asks for food.

So. Hungry Girl got money?

Maggie is only a poor girl without an allowance
who happens to be hungry.
And why is hunger, she asks herself, 
not its own winning argument?

She knows the only thing her fingers will find is lint.
She digs inside her pocket anyway.
Her hand strikes an empty seam bed.

Not so fast, says the Pasty Lump Lady.
Not so Lackawanna Railroad.

She says if Maggie dislocates a wheel from its axle
and gives it to the Pasty Lump Lady, breakfast will be served.

Pasty Lump Lady steals Maggie’s hunger.
She feeds her pancakes, eggs, syrup, until it is time to fold up shop,
uses the glint from the gold wheel 
to wrap sunlight inside her apron.

It was daylight just a few moments ago.
Maggie's mind is a basket filled with broken stuff.

She stuffs the skateboard under her arm.
Time to pack up what she jumped off.

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