“A Sloth First Hears Its Name” by Marianne Kunkel

Marianne Kunkel

A SLOTH FIRST HEARS ITS NAME

But why should it care? It munches
a cecropia leaf. It probes the air
with its blunt snout, detecting
a waft of sour coconut. It lumbers to a branch,
grabs hold with its claws, drops,
dangling upside down like a knapsack.
It doesn’t know to feel ashamed
that its name means lazy and sinful.
Like my little sister
after her abortion, when our father
changed her name from Molly to Molly.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010

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Marianne Kunkel: “I wrote my first form of poetry at age four, when I composed the music and lyrics to a song called ‘Queen with the Loose Tooth.’ I remember arranging kitchen chairs in a circle and prancing from seat cushion to seat cushion, belting my song. I’m no longer a queen, and have all my adult teeth, but I still can’t get past the thrill of poetry. And dancing on kitchen chairs.” (website)