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The Talk

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Pretty soon we’ll have the talk.
She’ll ask me where babies come from
And I will lie to her:
“Babies come from the chance meeting of sperm and egg
See the man deposits his sssperm which is like a pudding
into the woman’s vvagina and it travels up this tube-y thing
and only one of them gets the prize and bing! A cell becomes
a fetus becomes baby becomes you.
Go do your homework.”
She will wait for me to calm down,
her eyes patient requiring the truth
and I will tell her:
“Babies come from Friday nights melted into Saturday mornings;
the Isley Brothers and 3 or 4 glasses of white zin; miniskirts
and aching zippers; sofa cushions sweaty and 
ogodthecondombroke;
Babies come from blue lights and e.p.t. tests and the wet spot on clean sheets;
Lonely knees that bump beneath the table; love letters sealed
with a miss and $758 phone bills; eyeliner and lips to match; muscled
Thighs and a sweet, milky quarter of yes in the center of pink panties.
You came from this: a separated daddy and a desperate mama;
A ripped sonogram and hours spent on hardwood floors asking 
girlfriends:
Should I go through with this?
Grandma’s washboard and the dust tracks Grandaddy made when he
left her with five girls to maim

You came from this: Maryland rain, nights of shag carpet lovin’ and days
Just $2 short of the rent;
And one afternoon you came
I wanted your father so badly it hurt
Even took his last name and flung it behind yours like a spare tire
Whatever he gave me was never enough
It was like his love was a sieve
And my desire for him
Water
I was insane
Packed my dreams in a U-Haul and moved them to MD
Nothing better to do
30 and scared
You came from this:
Collision of longing
Tongue kissing and shame
The emptiness at the corner of GA Avenue
And the fullness of swollen ankles and readjusted dreams
You came from:
A poet and a singer
Fists and car keys
Peach cobbler and gumbo
Love
And that last dirty fight on the Beltway
You came baby
You came, here”

And she’ll say:
“Mama, babies come from peach cobbler?”
and I’ll say
yes.

Source: Poetry (March 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Talk

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