A Rescue Plan for the Woman who Lays in Bed Whining

Tyra would not get out of bed on her thirtieth birthday
or let me celebrate with her in any way
although she left the door open so I could let myself in
she tucked the blankets into all her edges
including her feet, with only her face bare
stubborn and grimacing

I tried to untuck her for a tickle into laughter
but she had armed herself against that favored tactic
I told her I would buy anything she wanted
or that she could buy it herself
because she was so much more successful than me
–nothing.

Then I huffed up my frustration and almost turned away
I muttered, Well, you’ll have to give up
And keep me company anyways
Because all of the idiots are going to do stupid things
And start dying off around this age

She didn’t say she didn’t care or cry or moan
so I looked over at her to find my reward
that she was grinning, so that was what worked
she slowly dressed and let me take her out
for dinner and dessert

now I refuse to answer my boyfriend
because I am thirty and unlike Tyra
spend almost all my time sleeping
so he prompts me with the baby voice
he uses to represent our puppy
a voice I could never argue with

and says, I have one hero, my mommy!
Oh really, Grendel. Why is that? Mommy hasn’t ever
accomplished anything but giving you belly rubs
and making you dog food omelets.
Not true, mommy! You saved me three times!
Really?
Yes.

The time there was a price on my head
You saved me from the Russians in Lynn
Who kept me in a cage and lied about my heritage
as if being a purebred would make me worth more than I already am
you saw past my knotted hair, bad breeding and ill manners
and paid an exorbitant price for me, always saying I was worth every penny

then at the dog park, when that scary dog put me in his mouth
and shook me while I screamed and bled
and all the other pet owners stood stunned
you ran past them, punched that dog in the mouth
and rushed me off to the hospital
where you held my paw and sang me songs

and then when our house burned down
you picked me up before you even put your shoes on
and carried me out snuggling my nose into your jacket
to protect me from smoke inhalation
and cooed to me so I wouldn’t be frightened
and rubbed my feet so they wouldn’t be as cold
as your own feet were getting, bare against the snow

you have done way more for me
mommy, than Tyra could ever have dreamed
of doing good for anyone by the time she was thirty
so how is she more successful than you, again?
I don’t know, I answered, but I’m feeling hungry
so I got up smiling, and dressed slowly for our dinner party

Advertisements

But officer, you don’t understand!

I braked a nanosecond before the sirens assaulted my ears
that’s how aware I am of cops, and scared
another nanosecond before my sight was taken over
by the flashing lights overwhelming my rearview mirror
which minutes before was as thickly dark as a block
of velveteen cheese gone rotten
on a strip of nearly abandoned highway
of course, I knew I had been speeding

What was I thinking? I had just left class
I guess I shouldn’t have printed those articles on Syria
I even sprung for the colored photographs
of Damascus so my students could see
but my plan was to teach fluency
and vocabulary over content
so I couldn’t explain how heartbreaking it was
and struggled to answer simple questions instead
“Teacher, what does the word homeland mean?”
I wasn’t so upset until the third reading

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t thinking of
my Syrian friend who I left on another continent
the fact that I can always go home while he can’t
partly because of the golden cross he wore around his neck
which I would finger and twist around
every Sunday for years while we laid in my bed

the before and after pictures he would show me
at his most vulnerable, after what seemed like gallons of whiskey
“Here is my bedroom in 2014. Now here is the hole where it used to be,”
both of our hands hungover and shaking while I zoomed in
and just told him I was sorry, the after photo resembling
a block of the rottenest velveteen cheese. Then I would kiss him

I taught him English and he taught me Arabic
my Korean friends outcasted me when they found out about it
while my American friends claimed to never understand a word he said
even though his accent wasn’t that thick–to be fair, I guess they didn’t
but he was sweet, and strong and lean
and I always understood what he was saying
when he said he had lost everything

now the same students who insisted on enveloping me
and all of my immigrant neighbors after our building burnt to a crisp
with cash, favors, and affection–their faces turn blank
when I talk about the plight of Syrians

of course, I should’ve planned a better lesson
but that’s why, officer, I was speeding to get home
to start planning. I don’t dare tell him I am afraid
because of the last time I was pulled over

when I had just returned to my own homeland
with a Korean license and the promise it would be valid for six months
which didn’t stop the cops from asking me to step out of the car
and acting like Korea was just something I made up
that there had to be another reason
for this strange language on my documents
they accused me of masterminding a fraud the size of a country
God, I was so frightened.

But tonight, the officer returns and hands me a warning
he says, “It’s not a fine only because you teach immigrants English
and I think that is so important.”

I’m glad I’m not single

The smell of American Spirits hits me

before i round the corner with my puppy and see him

all blonde and clean and well dressed in a gray sweater

blue jeans, boots, and a winter hat – his blue eyes

glitter up at me from the brick wall he is leaning against

it might as well be a gutter, that’s the kind of alley he’s in

drinking out of a brown bag and smoking but i can’t help myself

before i say “Hello, how are you,” even though it’s dark

in part because he’s crouched down lower than me

and in part because he is shining

there is something about a lone gutter punk

i find so attractive – i would love to stroke his hands

lean in for a sloppy kiss and laugh and dance

under the moonlit streets then he says, “i know you

and your little dog, too. I’m your neighbor’s friend

don’t you remember me?” And I’m glad I’m not single

because i am thirsty and the liquor store is closing

and i have half a mind to crouch right next to him

and have one of us wake up in some strange apartment

scurrying to leave, wondering about which tests

we should be taking, both of us embarrassed

questioning whether we’ll see each other again

until we do the very next weekend at some party

because (surprise!) we’re both alcoholics

Instead, I can bid him good night keep on walking

 

Reform

Do you want to know

how to find the perfect boyfriend?

You have to recruit him young

and teach him yourself the difference

between right and wrong and treat him

with several small slaps on the wrist

for all the minor offenses and larger ones

on the ass, as needed, until he is reformed

Considering a Friendship

I made what was supposed to be a fun dinner
awkward for everybody.
the next day,
i slid to the floor of the library

where there are
so many stories outside of me.
i imagine her coming closer
to ask what i’m reading
i imagine she doesn’t want
anything from me
that shes just asking
out of curiosity

if there’s one thing
of which im certain
its that i am a very
difficult woman
even for her, i wasnt easy.
she had to prop me up
and support me.

but i imagine i deserve
a place to sleep
where no one will reach out
to touch me
for now its always here,
in the library

but im going to let
some women close to me.
im going to exchange
some live, unwritten stories.
i imagine they wont see me
as a toy or possession
but that theyll treat me
like a human person