Dark and sticky the sauce but the size of the ankle bone?
Who eats this?  I am a bully.  In the wild I could not catch
you but here is a leg bone like beach grass propped
in the air.  I am on a date.  This was back when

but he doesn’t.  I thought my heart would break open but
it didn’t.  In the front yard the Clementine tree is short
and gives off faint perfume;
the bees should love it.  You should know my children
and I planted it when it was a twig wrapped
in a damp paper towel.  And now look

but you know this.  You know my children are older
and I know your organs are slowly aging.  Why
can’t this bind us?  Here I am at my desk,

where are you?  My bones are in my body, pulling at my
skin and each other
when I move myself;
tilt my head, arrange the angle of my back so that I sit
up straight the way my mother said.
You can meet her someday.  She is alive and healthy
and made of wax and petals.  That is my mother flying
over you.
My father is the ocean looking for sharks.
He will take their teeth out
so that now surfers and swimmers find only

the unpleasant sensation of being mouthed. My sister
and brothers are full of feathers. 
On our street the children run from one yard to another,
all their little faces like windows
smudged over, seeing nothing but the most vivid

or pleasant, looking ahead to what’s for dinner
and if the rice is white because anything else is too chewy
or full of earth
and even the young ones want to be transported
by the fork and if there is cake
our mother is wonderful and how could our father leave
when she is made of wax and chocolate
and her bones are like sticks of candy that never snap
and her hair is burnt grass.



"When I lived in Baltimore, Bruce Nauman's neon sculpture, 'Violins Violence Silence,' was close to my house. After one winter, I knew it was made for me and knew also it had nothing to do with me; even then it was mine. That is how I think of poetry; I want to make it big enough and small enough to belong elsewhere, for a line or an image to stick with and become something to someone else. I love Barbara Kruger's work, especially 'Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground)' which I bought on a postcard in Austin, and the elevator shaft at LACMA, 'Untitled (Shafted).'  That is also how I think of poetry. It should be big enough to lift you and small enough to carry around."

Marlys West is an award-winning writer living in Los Angeles. She has been published in journals and anthologies including Cossack Review, American Poetry Review and Burnside Review. She was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, an NEA grant recipient in poetry, and received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. The University of Akron Press published her first book of poems in 1999. She is currently writing poetry and fiction and raising her children.