Poem of the Week, by Michelle Boisseau

Collect Call
– Michelle Boisseau

Whatever he means, my brother means no harm.
It’s 6 a.m. in his time zone. Was he awake
all night dreaming these children? a girl
my daughter’s age named Music,
and 12-year-old twin sons
born six months apart:
Seth Gábriel and Seth Gäbriel, named
for an archangel of double messages
whose secret translations my brother keeps.

And he meant no harm years ago
when he scooped up a toddler at the zoo
and ran with her as far as Monkey Island
before the crowd pried away the child he fought
to save from them. While he was strapped
onto the stretcher and lifted, a cracker on a plate,
he watched me watch him speed away,
climb the stairs that wind through a hole
in the clouds and close around him like an eye.

“Oh, I have lots of children,”
he suddenly remembers, “lots and lots,
but I never get to see them.”
Perhaps each tooth he lost was sown
into a child that sprang up like a god
with a fanciful name. I hunch the phone
against my shoulder, try not to set him off:
“And how do you manage to support them all?”
“I give them lots of ideas.”

Upstairs I hear doors slamming, the kids
awake, running, laughing, a game
of can’t-catch-me. The winner chooses
the place at the table; the other pours the milk.
Perhaps he means the wind loved him.
Or that the blond aspen behind the Seven-Eleven
wept grateful in his arms.

Or maybe he does have real children,
sometime a woman slowly undressed
a small nervous man and gave him
a bit of evidence he wasn’t denied
every fruit in the garden—children,
jobs, houses, beds—our easy windfall.

For more information on Michelle Boisseau, please click here: http://www.michelleboisseau.com/bio.html

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

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