Be So KindMy sisters and I belong in the Russian story where the plump dark bread is clothed and saved each night.
Here is the porclain bowl one sister weeps into and washes red stockings. In the courtyard where the other sister hangs her embroidered linens, you will smell the River Prut. I am tutored for examinations but leave University to nurse the trembling uncle.
At night we button our hands to silk blankets.
Here we totter unfit for your America. We kneel, fingers stuck in our throats.
When the betrayals begin, we paint ourselves and nest inside one another.
Please, be so kind as to let the author know: if there is any choice in the matter, my sisters and I, we'd rather kill each other in our other Bessarabian woods where snow mounts indecently to the top branches.
PlayToday my happiness is like my friend's infant son napping in the stroller.
"He's been sleeping for so long," she says. "And what the royal bitch is, he'll be up all night raring to go." But now he's in it, sleeping hard despite the way she nudges him, wipes his damp hair, nibbles flushed cheeks, saying, "Hey up, Sleepy, you're missing all the fun." He brushes against her poking hand with his hand but doesn't wake. Slump fitted in his stroller, his neck cricked at some quirky angle, cranked forward he looks like he can't be comfortable that way, or even after she's dragged him up, his dangle body slouched against the chair of her body and he's still all shudder, he's grunty breath and snore, some spit he babbles while she jiggles him and his eyelids twitch, lifting to show a flutter of white.
And my friend, who called to say, "Please, just meet me. I need to talk" can barely talk with me at all she's so beside herself, frantic, really, begging, poking him awake. But can he wake to please her who more than anyone he loves to please? Even, if somewhere in that sleeping head he hears her pleading, "Don't you think you've slept enough?" he can't pull up to join her or, if he woke have the words to say that it's not for good or bad the body sleeps, but because, like happiness, unruly given any given day, it's what exactly the body, despite all reason, needs. Then, just as suddenly, he startles, crying, asleep, then eyes blinked open, though not so much awake as stunned, my friend trying to contain the jerky thrusts, trapping his stiff flailing arms inside her arms, shoots me a tell-me-what's-next? look while she rocks him, repeating, "Here. I'm here, my Love," and that skittery happiness, mine, takes off on action wheels that stutter then zoom.
Look at me!
I've so little to tell her that makes any sense at all.
Can we meet again tomorrow? Look at me! Look again.
I'll be there crashed against my own sharp corners.
More"You be the baby and I be the mommy," says the boy.
"Get me juice," says the woman. "Get me water. Get me milk and I want a toy. And I want juice and not that cup. And I don't like that kind of juice and I don't want to wear boots and I want another toy and a candy and noodles. But not those noodles but other noodles. And I don't like those pants. And I want my green shirt. And I want more water. And I need light. And it is too light in here and I am scared of the dark. And now I am scared of the day. And I am still hungry for water."
"More," says the boy not smiling. "I want to play that all again."
It Should Be So Simple?A man did not want daughters. But was it as simple as that?—a not wanting?—because, despite every medical, spiritual and marital intervention, the man, of course, had daughters. For one he seated the wife above him. For one he spun down seed. He counted days. He entered a trance. Microscopes measured the wife's ferning. Daughter after daughter, six to be exact, the man had, and, of course, he loved the girls, wanting for each one of them all the same gorgeous, wrong things he already wanted for the son.