Baby Picture


We burn his photo under the tree. My friend, I trust her witchcraft.
Kai is a midwife and never asks for too much. She takes hands and fills
them. Asks, Did you want to be a pet? I’d eaten clay for this, which tasted
good: like warm bread dough or a sour tongue. Which has sat in my
mouth for longer? Kai rubs her mouth red, says It’s water heavy, so we
won’t catch
. We light the photo, sopped in chemicals. Truth is, I did
want to be pet, to tilt my head into his palm and see what might fall
from the eardrum. A whistle, a bark, a slew of pines; saved for later,
a bite of bread. I was trying not to growl, I was trying. On the photo’s
back I write down all the times I haven’t turned. It can be so very easy
to change—with ink, say, or some spare skin to snap on your own.
He dressed his new girl like a deer head for Halloween. Her deer head!
Mounted! While he posed in camo for the camera, arm around waist.
I’ve rid myself of every green dress, worry I have lost my sense of humor,
know he would say yeah, chill, fear I could be the one with her head on
a wall, had he let me. No matter, now—the paper blisters acrid, chokes
the tree limbs, smokes and does not burn and Kai whispers Hold, cups
her hands and covers my mouth still damp with soil. Your breath. Above,
bottles knock each other with no rhythm. Some birds stir. Now hold