I watch their eyebrows raise and hands
rise and shoulders follow and I know:
they’re about to ask me to do
something. Again.
Again, again.

So I steel myself,
gather in my guts
call forth the soldiers
lounging in my spleen
and I say, group-huddle:
Do you all know the plan?
The one that involves a speedy shut down?
Do you remember what we’ve practiced?
Task Force assures me that they do,
and assembles.

So I watch. Watch lips curl into smiles
and pleasant things spill
like my mother makes the greatest lemon pie,
Donny just loves it, don’t you just love
lemon pie? and
Tootsies’ll run and run and run and run
and isn’t it great when dogs can be dogs?
The kinds of things that
illicit nods from my unattached chin,
until I remind it to
get with the program, please.
So we stop nodding.

And the signal words begin.

Lips curl around syllable sounds like
un-fort-u-nate-ly and
and I tell Task Force that it’s not a false alarm
that it’s really going down this time
that you guys have really got to be
prepared in there.

We’ve got to leave Grandma at home.
It’s going to be extra hot while we’re away.
I’m waiting for an important package.

Systems are
blaring—alarms are tearing
holes in my ear drums the soldiers
are shouting like I don’t know what’s happening
my chin is nodding—stop it!—and

their eyebrows raise and their chin tilts up
and they take a deep breathe and look me straight in the eyes—

“Would you pop by a couple
times a day to say hello to her?”

“Would you drive on up
and give the magnolias a sip?”

“Would you come around 9:17 a.m.
to greet the postman
and make sure he doesn’t
leave the package
on the doorstep?”

I wish I could chop off
sometimes, my chin, I really do,
because it’s still just there nodding
like an idiot after the last couple of sentences
and now my brain thinks it’s game on
and Task Force forgot all about the chin
and—useless—still hanging around my hands
for the gestures that I can’t seem to make
because my goddamn chin is nodding
and my lips are forming
and my tongue is retracting
and my throat is softening
and the hands are limp and
my eyebrows are up and the alarms
are so loud and—

“Of course!”



The reader brings his or her own experience to the poem and creates meaning. Here is my mine:

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