The Grind

By Ange Mlinko Ange Mlinko
Three mini ciabattini for breakfast
where demand for persnickety bread
is small, hence its expense, hence my steadfast
recalculation of my overhead,

which soars, and as you might expect
the ciabattini stand in for my fantasy
of myself in a sea-limned prospect,
on a terrace, with a lemon tree...

Not: Assessed a fee for rent sent a day late.
Not: Fines accrued for a lost library book.
Better never lose track of the date.
Oversleep, and you’re on the hook.

It’s the margin for error: shrinking.
It’s life ground down to recurrence.
It’s fewer books read for the thinking
the hospital didn’t rebill the insurance;

the school misplaced the kids’ paperwork.
Here’s our sweet pup, a rescue
which we nonetheless paid for, and look:
he gets more grooming than I do.

When I turn my hand mill, I think of the dowager
who ground gems on ham for her guests;
the queen who ground out two cups of flour
on the pregnant abdomen of her husband’s mistress;

I think of a “great rock-eating bird”
grinding out a sandy beach,
the foam said to be particulate matter
of minute crustaceans, each

brilliantly spooning up Aphrodite
to Greek porticoes, and our potatoes,
and plain living which might be
shaken by infinitesimal tattoos.

Source: Poetry (September 2012).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2012
 Ange  Mlinko

Biography

Ange Mlinko is the author of three books, Shoulder Season (Coffee House Press, 2010), Starred Wire (Coffee House Press, 2005), which was a National Poetry Series winner in 2004 and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award, and Matinees (Zoland Books, 1999). In 2009, she won the Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism. Mlinko was born in Philadelphia, and has worked in Brooklyn, Providence, Boston, and Morocco. She has taught poetry at . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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