August 24, 2010

Lauren Schmidt


If ever your husband comes home drunk, don’t
beat him while he sleeps; you’ll just end up confessing to it.

If ever you drive your car up on the curb, don’t
keep it a secret; your son will find out when he sees
the tires wobbling and will be sore when he learns
it’s actually the second time.

If ever you want to teach your grandchildren not to smoke, don’t
flash them your pneumonectomy scars or wag the rubber-insert
breast in their face. It will scare the bejeezus out of them.

(If ever you want to make them laugh, though,
spit your dentures in the meatloaf.)

If ever you can’t finish your dinner, don’t save the leftovers.
They’ll just lodge in your freezer for six months until

you can stand to throw them away. But don’t throw things away.
Fix them, mend, reuse them, clean them, and that goes for you too.
You don’t want to be the smelly grandmother, for Heaven’s sake.

If ever your grandson tells a joke with the word queef in it,
don’t repeat, for clarification, Pussy fart? when he answers you.

Which brings me to swearing. If ever you need to swear, don’t
take the Lord’s name, say shugamaloot instead, or,
if you have to swear, say shit-fuck-goddammit like a lady,

because when a nurse instructs your stroke-stricken husband
to shit in his bed, you’ll want to have something to say.

If ever you’re mad at the family who is mad at you
for christening the neighbor’s baby in the bathroom, don’t
threaten to stop taking your meds: it only works the first time.

If ever you’re about to die, don’t ask the Lord for more time,
because the Lord is good and He just might give it to you.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009

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