Lizi Gilad Silver
Brick colonial with Greek letters
announced Grade A Milk girls.
Spaghetti night, hair irons, kamikaze
shots. One subsisted on carrots.
One, monthly, waxed her crotch bare.
One wouldn't enter the bathroom
without a can of air freshener,
Apple Orchard or sometimes Rain.
One plugged herself with a tampon
whether or not she was bleeding,
fearful of any dark, unkempt matter
that might seep out.
During Our Marriage, We Neglected to Care For Our Livestock
For ten years our feeble camel twitched
her ropetail and winked in every room
of our house. We knew neighbors heard
her odd, two-toed footsteps and caught
glimpses of her tawny hair. Sometimes
she appeared in public: mall, picnic.
She’d stand and lick her muscular lips
while we gathered sheaves. How could you,
why didn’t you, why won’t you.
We stopped noticing how often
her back fractured and healed.
Last week after an argument over espresso
she joined us on the silent drive home,
three beasts crumpled on supple leather.
I left that evening. I left the family
and took the camel out for dinner.
We found the emptiest place
in the neighborhood, a Mexican restaurant
with quiet wineglasses. “Los mariachis
have the night off,” our waitress apologized.
We ordered and ate slowly; tortilla chips
with painful points, halfhearted salsa, tequila
so strong my liver wept. I was glad
for an easy companion who listened
pensively and matched my chewing pace
with her yellowed teeth. At the end
of the meal after I paid the bill
and pocketed a couple cellophaned mints,
I asked her for a ride to the nearest motel.
Our camel collapsed. Her clement eyes closed,
her lashes sighed. Straw everywhere.
It’s a tin can in a patch of grass.
An overturned canoe by the lake.
It’s lakemist and lakebottom.
It’s a dusty cabin, a rocking chair,
a blanket tossed on the couch.
Acres of days between each touch.
It’s beige carpet, a lion asleep
in the sun, dried apple skin
on the countertop. It’s the mug
in the dark corner of the cabinet.
It’s the dark corner of the cabinet.
This no-longer, what-is-this
love is pink public-bathroom soap.
It’s the ticking of the gas stove until lit,
the taste of acetone in the nose.
It’s the last inch of olive oil,
a wet cottonball, a fiddlehead fern.
It’s the yellowed armpits
of your undershirts and the washing,
the folding, the tucking away.
Lizi Gilad Silver has poems published or forthcoming in Foundling Review, Melusine, HOOT, Boston Literary Magazine, Poetica Magazine, and others. She is an MFA candidate at UC Riverside's Low Residency MFA program. In addition, she is a first-generation American, she once worked in a carrot factory, she once broke her coccyx bone in Teotihuacan, and she once (once!) made a room full of people laugh.
Return to September 2012 Edition