Thursday
Jan082015

Niobe

Colleen Abel 


 

My father ruled

the city of Tantalus,

which means that I was dangled

all through my babyhood

just beyond his armspan: my fat legs

swinging a bit, my fat hands

closing and unclosing as he tried to

reach out to me. This is

the lesson of fathers—

best to learn it quickly.

 

*

 

The lesson of mothers

takes a whole life.

 

*

 

I said,

Look at him, my son, my

little manifesto. Edible, beautiful.

I made him sit so

quiet for the still lifes.

All he wanted was for me

to run the cars across the carpet

and talk in funny voices.

I blew up their feeds with him.

Look at him, my son.

 

*

 

The woman in the coffee shop said,

Those eyelashes are wasted on him.

My mother said,

Never let him go anywhere alone.

A boy

that pretty?

 

*

 

All of us in the same story:

Children with breadcrumbs, children

in cinders, forgive us.

We will lock you in our tallest tallest towers.

 

*

 

This is the lesson

of mothers.

Love turns you

to stone.