the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Spring 2013



Andrea Carter Brown

Domestic Karma

Pair of pulleys, a circle of rope
stretched taut into parallel lines

dividing the driveway, lime tree
from lemon and tangerine. Small

square wicker basket, wooden
clothes pins. The week's worth

of suspended shirts tickles aloe,
hens and chickens. Pillowcases,

damp sheets release memories
of rumpled sleep and bad dreams

to the breeze. Clean underwear
made fresh for the body you love

to undress; socks newly plumped
cushion steps. Monday morning

again. May this ritual help us get
through the week between tests

and results. May it bring six
months of Mondays like this,

shirts loving sun on shoulders,
fear faded as favorite blue jeans

pinned to the line, socks ready
to take us wherever we want.


Moving Day Odalisque

Sitting on the stoop in case cops
try to ticket the hot pink truck
that blocks the fire lane, I watch
an unshaven man with a scab
on his upper lip drop dollies
to the street, stack them up
against the dog-piss-watered
sumac that passes for a tree.

Back in the van, he tosses
boxes marked FRAGILE
pell-mell to the curb, hauls
two at a time up steep steps
as if it's nothing and stacks them
on a carpet-covered trolley
he kicks down a narrow hall.
I've never seen such gorgeous

legs. Sockless, in unwashed
torn safari shorts, they send
shivers down my back this dog
day afternoon as I wonder why
men get the pretty legs —
a phenomenon my mother
first called to my attention
one evening at the kitchen window

as we watched the boys next door
shoot lay-ups and free throws.
My ninth-grade best friend
believed big knees made her
long, graceful legs ugly, and I
agreed. Whether we play ball
with the boys or stand hours
at the sink or ironing board,

the rare female leg looks half
as good as the average man's,
and there's nothing like a pair
of well-turned baseball bat thighs
and calves curved as a Grecian urn
to make you lean back and flex
your own legs, glad
to be a woman, and alive.



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