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My Lumpy Father

Inside his plaid shirt, a scurry of moles.
While he naps, a lone brave nose
whiskers the air, and they all venture out,
once, twice, three times
around his body. And hurry back in,
on a path between third and fourth button.

His brown wing tips, Thump and Wax,
gleam a language that goes on without him,
a word for the inside
ground dark from his heel.

His tale, Tar Baby, his creature,
The Snout with its air-bladder lung.
His water feature, bog, his collections,
erasers and rubber cement. His lips,
bananas, his nose like the wrong middle wish.
His genie like stacked inner tubes
rubber-bumpering in and out of the jar.

He built three sieves for the garden.
Which part of dirt did he keep?
Silt for a blanket, gravel for pillow,
fat pebbles for sleep?

From dreams of varmints
who vanish his turnips,
who leave him half-radishes,
he wakes up smiling
but doesn't remember.

It seems now our favorite succulent bite
is the globule of chicken tail.
We hang over railings, watching the tadpoles.
Wherever we walk, we make strange muddy prints.
He believed in a rubstone, believed
in a joke—in all the pockets, his gifts.
And look, on our doorstep—a basket
of nutbread and muffins.

Molly Tenenbaum

Two Sylvias Press

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