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Tanya Larkin

Five Hundred Fox Lives, One after the Other

 

If there are no seasons, no thought is out of season. Forgive me if I hate this perfect day.

But just yesterday I was an animal expecting like an animal to settle in for the duration. Curl up like a fox first into my tail. And then into the silence only snowfall provides.

Just yesterday I was ready to walk into a wedding cake world. Ready to walk into every cake simile trotted out through the swinging black doors of the hopeful human mind, so I could rifle through the cake for the hidden prize, the plastic baby that means fertility, the rusty bicycle that means good health…so I could break my tooth on the promise of spring. Then crankily ask a stranger, who’s getting married now?

Nature to nature, the stranger would say. Ah—the ultimate power couple, I’d say. Then commit nature with the stranger in a virgin snowfield.

How I love a daydream in winter—is there any better place to try and outrun one’s shadow?

If there are no seasons, no thought is out of season. I watch them come and go, grow bored of even my fears. Nature will marry nature again and we won’t be invited. But I’m okay with that. Having been hit so many times by my master the weather I am either enlightened or concussed.

I suspect the former because my five hundred fox lives are behind me. I suspect the latter because there’s one desire I can’t shake. Which is to be an animal again. 

 

*

 

The Blended Family

 

As time passed we gave up the dream of living in the round house. Too many nightmares about making rent. Too much death in the crawl space. 

 

There was that dream instead of living under the same roof. Of sleeping in the same bed for warmth. 

 

Someone would teach someone how to make a fire that left nothing but ash. Someone would teach someone how to stitch a sampler that said something in French. 

 

Your boy would take my girl’s hand and say, Will you be my search engine? Will you be the one to help me mark the old seasons

 

That my mother married my father because she didn’t want to sleep with her cousins any more might have been a mistake. But we can’t use this as an excuse not to share ourselves as a constant source of heat and stories. 

 

The impulse to marry can be walked off during the long tramps in which we carry our house, stone by stone, to safe ground. Like that Japanese temple its monks move clear across the district at the outset of every season. 

 

No need to worry whether your body will make it. Each will have her little lintel, her half-door. And besides the longer you carry a burden, the lighter it grows. Walk long enough and you will hardly remember you are carrying anything at all. 

 

*

 

Extinction

 

In this poem, I kill the future instead of killing my own child. I throw all the recycling in the regular trash. I eat ever higher on the food chain. I don’t call anyone back. 

 

What? You’ve never heard of such a thing? What kind of parent are you anyway? What has the future done for you lately, but lie there prone and asking for it?

 

Some discipline their child with a clapclap and a growl, a slow doubletake and a strong raised brow. But me not. Me reborn in the year of giving zero fucks. In the year of IWBHYWBH, which is what the bankers emailed each other as they leveraged one derivative against the next, blowing our pensions to bits: I WON’T BE HERE, YOU WON’T BE HERE. 

 

But my son will be. All because I walked to another room, and wrote this down.

Killing the future instead.

 

Sure it would be nice to step from one moment to the next not causing any harm. Instead it often happens you are left with the false choice of what you want to destroy.

 

My boy wakes up at the break of day and says, “I have two hands!” then proceeds to break everything he puts his hands upon. Into at least two pieces. Come into my world of infinite stuff. Where I thank God everything he touches doesn’t turn to gold.

 

 

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