Feminine Weakness

I walk into the school
to pick up my daughter,
a rimmed stain on my shirt.

This morning, the mud-covered
body of a hatchling that fell
from our oak tree,

body flecked
with flies, hard to see
in the cover of dark mud,
only a single wing visible.

Tossed lightly by who-knows-what
and now, sodden, full of something
not it. I don’t feel bad
throwing it away in the garbage
bin, its coffin of plastic bags,
nothing there anymore.

The gentle click of its neck
as it cracked. I can’t be like that
or something in me will break too.
Sometimes it’s important to be mean,
to preserve your self.

Now the blessed air conditioning,
as I walk into the school,
see women in yoga pants and lycra shirts
made of fabric that wicks away sweat.
Their bodies held tight
by their thin clothes. They walk several feet
ahead of their children, talking on cell phones.

But me, I’m spilling out
into the parking lot,
my daughter throwing a fit
of arms and legs, and I’m holding onto
her while I steer the baby’s stroller
with a few fingers, saying
It’s okay, It’s okay.

The sun stacking rays into
the minivans in the parking lot.
I open the door to ours,
hear the electric slide
of the door like a wish.

I willingly put my child
into a ninety-degree car
and remember how
sorry I am for everything I do,
or cannot do, my resistance
to being weak and its piles
of loneliness–
this whole life a business of loneliness,
stacks of it teetering up to the sky
like an invisible city–

because there’s no way to say
to the mother in the restroom
that she looks like God with her
shirt hitched up in a hasty bib, so tired

of it. She looks like she’s being
undone, unraveled, just like God
while Eden can’t stop growing
in its delicious, oversexed vines.

I just don’t know
how to bury a dead
bird, a baby, gently

help my oldest daughter
erase what she’s taken
so much time to write.

Throw it away, I tell her.
Start over, its better–

She puts her head
on the table and wails.
I was saving it. I want to save it.

I’m an animal to her
as I ball up the paper.
I hate when she cries,
says she can’t do something.
It makes me vicious
and scratch-mean and I want
to erase this weakness out of her.
I’m softened only at night
when my younger daughter sleep-talks
in her bed, tells me wings can be saved with water.

Cold to life, cold
to life, little children
warming up those lonely
mothers’ breasts
so the mothers hang up their phones
and pick up their babies, let their breasts
sigh heavy a little.

Do I want that for people? I think so,
especially when I dig out my
daughter’s paper from the trash,
see her terrible letters,
some backward and illegible dark lines,
sprawling effort

in an awful crush, awful dark
crush. What a danger I want
her to avoid.
That paper, the bird,
the women, the people
that might love them
and their bodies.
That want to be light
and living, even if it
breaks you,
a little each day.