DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN?
she asks as we walk off the tennis court
& someone starts up a chainsaw behind the fence
in the parking lot so I have to shout no!
& I’m suddenly tired, never been this tired
of this question that’s always asked if you’re a woman,
chunks of air falling around us
like wildfire monsoon oily ocean machine-gunned
atomic mushroom babies on a shriveled planet
& she yells that she has three & her first grandchild!
while we stand on the hot asphalt with that chainsaw tearing
a log to pieces & just won’t quit. She opens her car door,
shows me the quilt she’s made, little lambs on it
& when I touch the softness I want to be born
into a world where I say yes.
—from Rattle #74, Winter 2021
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist
Susan Browne: “I’ve been in love with poetry since I was 12, when my next door neighbor gave me a book of poems, Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis. Archy is a cockroach and a free verse poet. Mehitabel is a cat in her ninth life with many stories to tell. Archy has to throw himself headfirst onto each typewriter key in order to write. I was inspired! Poetry is my way of being in the world. I don’t know any other way.” (web)