The Living Teaching

You wanted to be a butcher
but they made you be a lawyer.

You brought home presents
when it was nobody’s birthday.

Smashed platters of meat
she cut against the grain.

Were a kind
of portable shrine — 

I was supposed to cultivate a field of  bliss,
then return to my ordinary mind.




You burned the files
and moved the office.

Made your children fear
a different school.

Liked your butter hard
and your candy frozen.

Were a kind
of diamond drill, drilling a hole
right through my skull — 

quality sleep, late November.




What did it mean, “field of bliss” — 

A sky alive “with your greatest mentor” — 

I wore your shoes, big as boats,
flopped through the house — 
while you made garlic eggs with garlic salt, what

“represents the living teaching” — 


Sausages on toasted rye with a pickle,
and a smother of cheese, and
frosting
right out of  the can without the cake — 


You ruled
with a knife in one hand and a fork in the other, you raged
at my stony mother, while I banged

from my high chair, waving
the bloodied bone

of something slaughtered — I was
a butcher’s daughter.


So all hail to me — 

Os Gurges, Vortex Mouth, I gap my craw
and the bakeries of the cities fall, I

stomp the docks — spew out a bullet stream
of oyster shells, I’ll

drain the seas — the silos
on every farm, the rice

from the paddy fields, the fruit
from all the orchard trees, and then I’ll

eat the trees — 

I’ll eat with money and I’ll eat
with my teeth until the rocks

and the mountains curl
and my blood sings — 

I’m such a good girl

to eat the world.

More Poems by Dana Levin