local_library Composite Family

by Maria Claire Leng

Published in Issue No. 18 ~ November, 1998

Do not floss in my presence today
My love. I see only germs. Leave
This room and me alone. I know
This house is ours forever.
But for my minute, I feel unshared.

I take up three acres today. Or perhaps
Just the survey and its markers.
You lie on the bed outside the bathroom.
I am tender with mistrust and know not to cry.

Do you recall the day before when we walked
Around my wetland garden, close
To my father’s house. The yellow flowers
Bloom well this year. And look at the cattails,
Tall and nestled, in the center, just out of reach.

Today my father mowed my wetlands.
Just a little two foot strip. You were with him.
But see no harm. You and I joined arms
Yesterday when this strip stood tall as ours.

A close moment for us, as the one I saw last night
When the cosmos and monarch, V and cup,
Somehow fit the pattern of orange and black
To petals of scarlet and pistil.
Close enough for a good fit of love.

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Maria Claire Leng studies poetry at Bennington College with David Lehman, Lucie Brock-Broido, Susan Carlisle, and April Bernard, where she received the first Jane Kenyon Scolarship for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Grand Street. When asked about the source of inspiration for this poem, she had this to say: "Anger brought this poem on; the actors simply took the stage, as did the sultry evening."