If she drinks a mouth of fire, I dream
a mouth of fire. When germs gather, I find myself
accidentally caressing her toothbrush. In her
room, she pulls dead leaves off the sapling. True,
I was scared. I thought I might be hated,
or smothered in my sleep. But when I woke
up Saturday morning, all the dishes folded
in their cupboards, it felt right
to have another animal moving in the house.
Sometimes I dream there is a third room
we discover, full of permanent furniture.
I reach into the medicine chest and pull out
the half-jaw she keeps there, dry and white.
Then I drink some of her tea. She’s in the other
room, writing something down. I break a glass.
The door to her room falls open, the furniture
tells me she is kind and absent, offers
some small pieces I can add to my mouth.
Lamb, After Fourteen Years
First bite, the dining room
came back: mauve tablecloth,
strange fixture—two bulbs
yellowing out of a globe
of chinked translucent tiles—
fireplace, high-backed chairs—and me
still hungry, gnawing meat
off the bone, discomforting
against my nose,
my mother’s gaze—
floated in little circles of oil
spreading from the lamb
across the plate. In their walls,
the windows narrowed. My
shoe soles began to fade.
The meat need pulled
at the bottom of my tongue.
Megan Alpert grew up in New York and has since lived in Minnesota, Seattle, China, and Boston. In 2012 she received an Orlando Prize from A Room of Her Own Foundation for a poem. She recently finished her first poetry collection, Unsettled.