“Reproduction” by Bonnie Bolling

Bonnie Bolling


and at times, the last steps across the bathroom,
you make a dazzling trail, the petals
the flower girl scatters under the feet of the bride.
—Sharon Olds

The crows on the limb were marauding
freshly laid eggs from a blue jay
when I came home from the grocery
with those white plastic sacks, looped around my wrists.
Milk was on sale, two dollars per gallon
disposable diapers and condoms
bread, bananas and beer. Then
I remember I forgot to buy tampons.
I was reaching for them in the hygiene aisle
when along came Barbara pushing an empty
shopping cart, slim stunning Barbara
a perfect size five, a childless woman by choice
who took charge of a university project
the focus of which was the male human penis
and which according to years of serious study
is apparently shaped like it is for a purpose.
Consider the curve in the stiff part of the shaft
and the angular head at the tip, it’s fashioned a bit
like a scoop or a shovel, not for pleasuring but
rather to scrape away another man’s sperm
leaving plenty of room for its own.
Now I think of his penis, my nakedness, the wine,
the way he leaned me over the back of the sofa,
I still feel him kissing the nape of my neck
the way he left me there damp and moaning,
staring a hole through my scrambled eggs.
Finally it dawns on me those tampons
I failed to remember to buy at the store
won’t be needed for nine months or more
and I wish I knew where in the world those
terrible crows were going; quarrelling, wings flapping
beaks snapping, irrepressible and laden with life
flung like buckshot against the goddamned sky.

from Rattle #29, Summer 2008

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