A Poem By Kathy Fagan

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Word Problem with Waves in Its Hair

There were 20 frittatas in that oven at any given time
They were little frittatas
There were starlings nesting in the wall beside the fridge
The knob on the oven looked like the combination lock to a safe
I desired to turn it in my hand like a curl in my mother’s hair
She took me to the beach when she wanted waves in mine
She wanted to put some body in it she said
She already had my brother in her
He was a guppy in her belly then & I her starfish all replaceable appendage
Shells thrilled me always filled with something brains or flakes off the moon
And jellyfish like the inside of an elbow
My mother liked her beach stones wet & her sand dry
A flashmob of Zsa Zsas on the busy lip of every cresting wave
But nothing not even the sun could make me squint like the sharp tips of her
glistening hair
The octopus has 8 arms she said 3 hearts
Octo 8 Carry the 3
Plus there are 2 sides to each horizon as there are to every wall
There were never frittatas in that oven
But she may have mentioned them once
When long straw & short straw were the verticals we made
Our different hair whipping greetings
Though our backs were to them all

Kathy Fagan is the author of four books of poems, most recently Lip.

If you’re in the market for more poetry — and, in these troubled times, who isn’t? — head right here, to The Poetry Section’s vast archive. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.