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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Mary Koncel - Two Poems

When the Babies Read The Book of the Dead

We can’t stop them. We say, "Babies, don't turn the page." But they try to sound out every word, gum each corner until it’s soft and sticky. We say, “Babies, look here—Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, a monarch butterfly wafting over a bed of red and white petunias.” The babies ignore us. They huddle together, drool across the cover. They like the pictures best—trees, man and shaggy dog together, the long, rocky trek against time. We try to distract the babies, tickle their round cherry chins, but they’re relentless. Their fingers, eyes, mouths, every bit of them so little but relentless. Sometimes we think the babies might not be ours. We could ask them, but we’re afraid. The babies don’t sleep at night. We hear them rocking upstairs beneath the crib, the book held between them like another prayer. We don’t know who to call.

When the Babies Discover Torque

We tell them over and over. “Babies, go to bed. Babies, wash your hands. Babies, don’t drink and drive.” They never listen. Inside the garage, soft heads bumping under the car hood like moths against a light bulb, they pass the tools between them. We decide to sing some nursery rhymes, remind them who they really are. “This little baby’s eating spark plugs, this little baby’s ripping out hoses, and this little baby’s thumping tie rods—whomp, whomp, whomp.” We think we should try to save them, but we’re not sure from what. Torque? The sultry lure of silicone grease and deep tread rubber? Between the heavy purr and rev of engine, in the sweet, low garble of baby talk, we hear them tell us something. “Blow it out your ass.” We step outside, close the door between us.

[from Tarpaulin Sky]