I come from a family of butchers,
Blood soaking through the second kiss before dinner.
I feel them poor
Sometimes, boarding a sea-faring bathtub
With pockets of cheese and worthless coins and
Toys to tide the children over, week by week.
I feel them arrive, settle
— And those women, thick bones
Harnessing even the Pennsylvania sun —
Daughters with no secret corners of grace.
They beat rugs, drive horses, plow, cook, mend,
Fuck with abandon.
These women my ancestors
Know nothing of PMS, estrogen, excuses,
The word ‘demure.’ None of it
But hungry men, barking children,
Babies practicing their fists
In the amniotic slosh.
Here there is no room for nostalgia
Or scraped knees, only the land.
Meat, growth, winter, birth.
Survival, gravestones, a stocked cabinet;
The occasional Sears Roebuck catalog
And kneeling without prayer.