Baby Bunting

I would mention the rain. I would mention how hard and how slow, but I know you'd rather talk about Ferris wheels and how the world has dragged you down, how this town owes you a fat girl in your bed, a fat girl who will keep your secrets and bear your apologies. You think you are a charming man. You think one gin and tonic will turn you into some kind of New South Tony Manero. You spend your time in gay bars and discotheques trying to pick up fat girls in drag. You think the rain owes you a living. What difference does it make to you that I am ill from too much alcohol, that a handsome man wearing clogs and a plaid shirt stole my clothes? I need love. I need a handsome man in my bed. I know people will stare.

We could go to the library. We could read Keats under a blanket. You think your hand controls the pencil, but it's the earth that controls your hand as it moves around the sun; it is the stars, as they move around a talented sky. You spend your days in a scholarly hush; it is something we have in common, you and I, with all the plants and animals and people in the world. The streets are crowded with venders and gypsies. At home you sit and stare at your mother's wallpaper or the drapes at the windows. You sit and wonder at the patterns as she knits by the window. You wonder at the pleats in her dress. You won't go out tonight, the clubs are full and you like sitting in your pajamas, thinking of things that matter: a ball is half a bowl, hollowed out; a cup is just a bowl with a handle on it; a plate is just a flat bowl. A boy wears his ear on his back.

I will not apologize for sleeping late; I'm too tired. Nobody knows why different kinds of birds always build their own particular kind of nest. The pantry is empty and I am naked. Turn on some music and I will dance the Charleston, I will fling my legs and you can prance an old-fashioned cakewalk. Oh, what a charming man you are, if only you could stop talking and listen to the happy music: Bye, bye Baby Bunting, Papa's gone a-hunting. You said it was going to happen. You said the street would be crammed with children, instead I only see white-faced hornets. When you said "it's going to happen," did you mean now? Did you fall in love with the words? All the streets are crammed with children demanding a higher allowance, of men reciting the word "bedlam." The dogs are barking; the ducks are quacking; the cows are mooing; the chickens are starting to cackle. And now, tell me, what exactly does it mean?

I would mention hope, about it being gone and swallowed by shoeless children playing in broken glass, but all the streets are crammed and you are such a handsome devil. Let me get my hands on you. I just want to be seen on your porch, rocking back and forth in a wicker chair. I would crack the whip, but I know I will never see you again and I am surrounded by too many fat girls. Tie me to a butterfly. Slap me with a hammer. There is more to life than dancing a Viennese Waltz to the skip and hop of your badly played square dance. Are you still there? Last night I dreamed you said "thanks" in that tone, and then I watched your mother beat cake batter. Did you know the lines of her dress are French? No one talks about the rain. Keats wrote awful poetry. These are the things that destroy me.

About the author:

Karen Ashburner is the poetry editor of