Teachers pat me like a loaf
especially the chalk-dusted
I learn early who has authority
Behaving is more important
than the Theory of Relativity
The length of my hems a critical topic
The only teacher who doesn't care
is Music, pounding me on the back,
exhorting me to inhale from some place deeper,
past the shallows of the ribcage
He listens when I try to improvise
Psychology wonders why I work so hard to disappear
The obsession with food, careful preparation, photogenesis
only to leave it all untouched, turning gelid
Physiology hands me a tube
I learn my lung capacity is only half
My male classmates have lungs like bellows
They can move more air with less effort
Teachers used to comment I talked too much
Now I consign myself to a smaller envelope of air
In college I go to a party at a professor's and do not speak at all
A blustery instructor of European Literature
Not a single female author on his reading list
Anger takes a lot of air
The airless version of me is mute
My grown daughter has an outburst in a restaurant
Why is it even a thing?
Quizzed by her male relatives for no good reason
Because they can
Diners at the salad bar turn to stare
My daughter doesn't care
claiming all the air she inhabits
The Oak Trees Have Seen Everything
How beautiful we like to remember.
What are angels exactly?
I imagine my sister playing can-can in Skyline Park.
She likes the feel of upside down,
hanging from her knees on the monkey bars.
She yells to me, all hair and cheekbones.
I can count her freckles. We swing on swings
as high as we can, touching the sky,
waiting for the parkie to unlock the shed,
the interior unfinished and smelling of
plywood and paint, with hooks for yarn
and craftlace. We braid bracelets.
She has all the dexterity. I run faster
to the slide. She exists for the descent,
not thinking ahead or behind but exactly
feet up or backwards. The oak trees have seen
everything in Skyline Park, reincarnating memory,
rivaling the streetlamps, which blink on at dusk,
telling us finally finally to go home for dinner
and baths. In bed we compare bracelets
in the slant of light from the moon.
Hers is yellow and orange, neatly woven,
Mine is haphazard, two shades of purple, my wishing sublime.