what the women are doing

what the women are doing | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Sketch by Pierre Bonnard. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

for Elaine Feeney

while we watch our movies sunk in beanbags
    the women
are talking without pause of blocked guts
   ladling food into handbags
     where it settles in sediments that birth
entire ecosystems.
The little species there look up,
     call mother to the sky – and it’s true
     the women will always be more mother than they might choose
     – the snare of mother, the body’s gibbet
     heedless above these worlds, the women
    are talking, great fish bowls of wine
pivoting on gold-laced wrists,
      talking about – not figs or pomegranates
      or anything that scatters seed,
but raisins, prunes, the consolation of dried physallis and patience,
    how they rattle in the quiet hours.
   And as we stuff our faces with popcorn,
they are talking, of course,
    about what can be thinned to secrecy,
        and taken with them in the night.