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In an apartment house on the planet, a young couple bundles their little bundle against the wind from a lake somewhere. Northern current pursuing the turn of the Earth makes them pull sweaters over their heads. He helps her with her hair, freeing it from the crackling wool, and cool dry air prowls across the livingroom carpet when they step out the door. Bath oil, home early, he wants to move, the big blue towel, twice as much love, twice the love, twice the baby powder; the night air not so heavy and the stars have so much to do tomorrow. As he drives, his best Central American poem speeds through his mind. He sees, as he reads the lines to the faces, the green-red convenience store lights near home. New mom and baby in the bathtub playing while new dad bathing away the work week with a beer creates a three-year-old crawling on the livingroom carpet, and walking, thinking, talking to dad about the Nicaraguan nurseries they remember; and the boy on the roof with the rifle, dad; the girl on the steps, the Hall de la Filosofia, blood like melting silver in the Managuan sunlight. You came back to pick me up? How long do you stay when it's time to go home? How long does the mission work last? Until you've left? Until you don't remember, you guess? Dad? What song will you sing to shut my eyes, to shut my mouth and kill my little body for the night? Tomorrow the park and the petting zoo. Do all of God's children go to heaven? The baby sleeps, the young couple makes in the dark decisions: when the second, when the move, when to get up in the middle of the darkness, and who. Behind the wall behind the headboard the drunk hispanic man labors in the silent glare of the electric bulb to sleep, labors in mud and concrete gunk along the boulevard for his family and for Rick, the engineer with the hard hat over the blond hair in the sun in the glare of the superstore with its own orchards in the back and a parking lot with curbs, nightmares of concrete, coupons, a wall of disposable diapers. In the night-light the baby lies awake, patient in the waste of time while merging muscles and bones make their demands. What is the puppet named light the beaded crib rail bends? In the morning in the eggs and bacon, shampoo and catshit, the scent of the powder on a winter day and the taste of warm milk in the middle of her life somehow fit the young mother's plans for the day. He's off to work to fold old newspapers into hats and little houses. Blunt scissors and bundling, she's bundling off to the park to sit and cut newsprint into flat, jagged dolls.

Mark LaRue teaches English in Houston and is working on a collection of poems.
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Author:LaRue, Mark
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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