blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
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The Upstairs Notebook

We missed the elephants feeding
on fruit in the stadium parking lot
because it was too difficult to leave
the house today. Most days are
like this now. The circus is in town,

and I am transferring singular objects—
my breast pump, my My-Breast-Friend
inflatable nursing pillow, my hands-free
pumping bra, my son—from one floor
of our rented row house to another.

This is a many-step process.
This takes longer than orthodontia,
some honeymoons, or a story told
by a kindergartener. The weeping
cherry trees are shedding wet blossoms

outside the door I haven’t opened.
I used to watch the front-window
neighbor lovingly wash his tiny blue
hatchback every other day, except
when I had to stop because the car

turned up one morning with a black
trash bag taped over the passenger-side
window and my hormones made me cry.
This is the upstairs notebook.
I have a downstairs one too,

about the neighbor who comes home
from work at five and listens, loud,
to the Bar-Kays’ “Holy Ghost”
in his alley-propped lawn chair.
In my downstairs notebook I also try

to write about the way it feels to walk
with my son strapped to my body,
his wet mouth suctioned to the space
between my breasts. My C-section slash
is still partially numb, and it’s raining.

My breast infection is on the mend.
Sometimes my son is sleeping, and today
he sleeps through the idea of elephants milling
a few blocks up, past Dee Dee’s Kutz &
Hook-Upz, past the drunks peeing

against the wall of the Mandarin Carry-Out.
In Southeast DC, a few blocks from us,
there are enormous elephants eating fruit
in the rain, and one day I will tell him
how we almost went to see them.  end

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