Her Mother in a Glass House in the Year of the Rat

daughter went to that island fair
daughter touched the mountains of its spine
daughter touched the black soil and the coalmine air
confucious whisper:
“welcome, the souls here are in brown boxes”

mother at the market in the mud
daughter to her knees
i’ll clean these and the blood

i kissed her on the top of her head
“the stink is in your hair”

twas in the june of her year,
in a house of her not-making
daughter saw swine in rooms and fowl on beds
daughter sent them into the sun
daughter swept up the feathers and scraped at the shit
and fleas lived on dogs marked today for the spit

daughter seesawed the swine-coloured children
daughter scrubbed behind their ears
daughter brushed the bark from their teeth

in a field of her not-clearing
the rice was smooth to the ankles
windworn with her bolus set to burst say:
“you my child will learn honey comes from the dead”

daughter saw that deformed devil a walking curse wild
summoned the lama come fast in the night fast
that boy become a robin’s egg he floated out of sight
“it was as if god had never shat upon that child”
that lama gone like a goat through that mountain pass
before morning nautical twilight

the air was a pestilence, the wind an insult
daughter stepped into the stink of an other’s all-wrong birth:

it were a newborn dove in a tobacco hand
it were the want of a daughter’s worth
with bedbugs a-bounce in her button lungs,
from this son-favored patch of piss-watered earth
that flea-coughing infant was skyward sent

the chairman proclaimed:
“daughters are for the bourgeois; if they persist it is simply to be maimed”

confucious at his side:
“desire is the wellspring of pain, look far and wide”

at seas of her not-spinning
their nets were wide of weave
and they cast before her spirits large of lung
and they cast before her the wide ways
but mother covered the sun

confucious hum in her ear:
“rebellions here occur in brown boxes, listen my child for the fear”

her blood let loose in terraces of rice
it crossed the wide skies of that dung-colored land
it soaked deserts and sands of her not-making
these reached in small unsteady planes
whose landings scattered the boar and birds
and she, she stood shaking

easily stacked daughter learned boxes
from her mother screaming at oxes
“i can’t stand all this goddamned mud”
and “mother if it weren’t for me”: the flood
confucious laugh like buddha in her ear:
“pain is powerless without you want, without you fear”

daughter sought underwater the sisters of those mountains
daughter sought range after range of mountains with gills
fingering the bastard rasps with her fingers in the dark
while mother stood on them window sills
her scabs and spit made a coral of bones
confucious bubble:
“these boxes are ever-moving like the never-sleep shark”

her hair became false anemones
her breath slunk into the currents
her eyes cultured to black pearls
she followed eels into the whorls

and now they’re back in their gingerbread shack
the stink is in the daughter’s hair
mother’s an aching back
and daughter’s become a tough nut to crack

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