She must try to simplify you

because there is a need to,

because she needs to fit you

into a form, like this poem for instance:

of folded images reduced into inch-thick

verses of hand-me-down cloth diapers

yellowed either by dust or debris

unwashed from her sister’s

three-year-old; of mango slices

dipped in salt every afternoon at four,

while the ice cream man goes by

and her tongue moistens for sweets

and more; of the hazy, sudden

spinning of the world when the sun

rises and she finds herself face-flat

and trying to empty life—quick,

into a washbowl! Because she needs

to simplify you when the cobwebs

of questions from the open windows

come spattering her way at sound-speed.

What if the old widow next door, for instance,

asks, when is your wedding again?

while these verses only look away, stare

blankly instead at the yellowed clothing

folded atop her bed; because these verses

only know how she could merely simplify you

by retracing maps that someone else drew

across her taut and yawning flesh.

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