by Lisa Marie Brodsky
Shes eight no shes twenty-eight,
shes sitting at the next table, her
mother curls her arms around the girls shoulders.
They are practicing multiplication tables no
they are going over the mothers will.
The girl has a blonde bob no she has brown pig-tails.
She laughs and leans against her mother no she
cries and rests her head
against her mothers burning chest.
The mother is thirty-four or fifty-two,
I cant tell.
An old woman sits at another table,
shakes as she picks her brittle bones up
and I know the mother will never
reach that age; I wonder if the girl will.
2 × 2 = 4 4 × 4 = 16 16 × 16 = 256
The girl thinks if you multiply life by life
you get more life no she is learning
subtraction, finally masters it at twenty-eight,
realizing if you take away one mother,
you get a negative number. She learns
what it feels like to be below ground level
and she gropes for the top no shes
eight and leaning against her mother,
fingering the slick cards
in her chubby hands.
Posted on 12/31/2006
Copyright © 2020 Lisa Marie Brodsky