When I called you Rabbit, what I meant
was Give me back my pocket watch.
And by Watch I mean Time, by Pocket –
Lost. Why are you so bad at riddles?
Remember our time in the hole, Rabbit?
You – straight down to the kitchen
for tea. Me – distracted and falling.
Why am I so bad at gravity?
By these questions, I mean Your Face.
My mother’s chipped cookie jar – Your Face.
Wide-eyed teddy bears in tiaras – Your Face.
Floral tea cups and white lace linens – Your Face.
And by Your Face, I mean Your Mouth,
By Mouth – Kiss – By Kiss
I mean I want to care for you.
I wish I had known sooner that you hated
chicken soup. I would have let the damn
birds fly away, would have poured less
of it in your lap on your way out the door.
I took everything you left behind.
By took I mean stole and by everything
I mean every fucking thing
and by you left I mean
pour me a drink. I kept all your bottles –
the ones you thought you smashed –
the ones with the tiny labels,
your neatly printed notes:
So I drank and got smaller and drank
and got smaller and drank and drank
until I got so small I would have fit
in your breast pocket, you know
the one, it’s got my watch in it.
From there, I could hear your heart beating,
keeping perfect time, a three count
with a twist, the way I used to imagine
us a Debussy Waltz and we never
even made it to the dance floor.
Listen, Rabbit, I never meant to hurt you.
So, if you come back, know that when I say
Hello. What I mean is Run.
Do You Remember, Momma, When You Broke The Glass?
I have a cold. I have three daughters. Snot is leaking from my nose. Something has gone off in the kitchen. I reek of sour milk. Baby Daughter is attached to one breast. I want to burn the putrid after-scent of caring from my skin. I send Oldest Daughter to take out the compost bucket. She is six. She can carry the bucket. She can open the lid and empty the bucket. I watch from the window in the rotting kitchen. Middle Daughter bangs a pot in the middle of the floor. Wooden spoon clangs against metal. Oldest Daughter stands in the yard and does not empty the bucket. Heavy is my arm with howling Baby Daughter who cannot reach my dripping nipple with her gaping puckered mouth. I want to sit. I want to go back to bed. I cross to back door. I shout as I shove the pane. Just empty the damn bucket and get back inside. Empty arm breaks the pane. Glass shatters and splits my skin. Middle Daughter stops playing music, starts to cry. Baby Daughter still unfed. Oldest Daughter drops bucket. Bleeding arm caught in the act.
I am sick. Something has gone off. Beware my rotten, Daughters. Please. Burn the putrid from my skin.
Empty my window and send me back to bed.
Jenith Charpentier is the author of three chapbooks, Bending the Water Between Us (2011), Bad at Gravity (2013), and 5 Poems by Jenith Charpentier (Damfino Press, 2015). She represented Worcester’s Poets Asylum at the 2012 Individual World Poetry Slam and as a member of the 2013 National Poetry Slam Team. Jenith’s poetry appears in several publications including OVS, Mas Tequila Review, Wicked Banshee Press, The Orange Room Review, Worcester Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, and the anthology Knocking at the Door. She is currently a judge for the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and one of the organizers of Worcester’s 7 Hills Slam. More information about her work can be found at https://www.facebook.com/jenithcharpentierpoet.