Rocking Chair

by David Clisbee

You do not tell your mother
of dark-haired Aussie sisters lounging on an Italian shore;
how they spread a maroon blanket
like jam over toast before unclasping bikini tops–
their nipples contradictions
to thermometers, rising when licked by cool breeze.

When you learned each sister hated her breasts–
one girl’s right larger than her left,
other wishing both were bigger–
you wanted to weep the milk
of imperfect breasts that made you possible.

My father ran his tongue around my mother’s
areolas the night he filled her with the first sentence
of my creation story. Her body swelled
with me living past miscarriage as I grew
out of a bundle of tissue and blood.

One night as my mother snored beside my snoring father,
I woke with a mouth and fingers I sucked
in preparation for suckling
until my legs could walk me away,
a mammal with teeth of my own.

My mother’s breasts no longer a banquet for me,
I cast a shadow
down the hall as I left my mother
in our rocking chair– wanting me back
with bones not strong enough for walking.


About the Author

David Clisbee is a TESL student at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he earned an M.F.A. in 2009.  His work has appeared in Ninth Letter, International Poetry Magazine, and South Dakota Review.  He and his wife, Diana Joseph, live in Mankato with their wild 17-month-old son, two unruly pugs, and one moody cat.