Kelly Bancroft

The childless woman
I've just met
says she could set her watch
by my biological tick.

A girl's goldfish flickers
in a bag. A husband scolds
his wife eyeing a clock--
You got time to kill?
Inmates in neon poke
the earth with sticks
along the highway.
In the bundles they leave
behind I picture babies,
denture-pink, black cords
brittle as November's stems.
Some days are like this.

Other days I am my Aunt Edna,
the blood of her stitched and
re-stitched heart inching
through pig's valves until
her death. At the kitchen table
once she said to listen--
Hear the tiny, flowering ex-
halation, the close and click?

There's no Big Ben
in me, no Grandfather,
no rigged dynamite stick.
But I sometimes hear it--
a cheap time-piece in a kid's game.
Rickety cardboard spinner
or an egg-timer: A minute
to find the answer,
a minute to unscramble
some sense, a minute to move
your marker, a minute to jump
a fence.

The Glucose Bird

As the eye rejects the lash
As the soul reflects the breath
Marilyn’s hands are candle wax
The oxygen tank a bubbling sack

The glucose store is her sugary bird
perched on the silver bed-rails
Where or where does the energy go
When an woman dies, a room pales

Only the glucose bird sounds out
Song of rising, song of swallowing
Our cartoon thoughts, our scripted clouds
The z’s rise out of our slumbering mouths

Not chainsaws or timber but a song like sawing
Song of circulation, song of cells
Her mouth is public, her partials loose
Tomorrow they will sew the mouth shut

The glucose bird gurgles its song
Song between this woman’s pulse and plateau,
Song between the flesh’s green and yellow
Into her veins the glucose bird sings

All night long for the dead mother
The overworked father, the under-loved daughter
The first husband’s treason, the second one’s greed
The glucose bird combs the air for seed