Thursday, March 28, 2013

Your Favorite Number

In the Washington, DC area's Beltway Poetry Quarterly, edited by Kim Roberts, I recently found this lively number-poem by Pennsylvania poet Barbara DeCesare in the Summer 2012 issue that features poets in the federal government.  Enjoy.

     Your Favorite Number   by Barbara DeCesare

     I hope you have a damn good reason
     because when you let a number like that in,
     it’ll turn on you so fast.
     36: spine on spine, a grudge,
     a house divided, half-sisters,
     or the twins,

     but one lives head tucked
     inside the other, her legs
     dangling out above the other’s hip.

     Why do you want that trouble?
     Or maybe thirty-six just rhymes with
     dirty sex
     and that’s enough to give it rank
     among the infinite runners-up.
     But I will tell you about my treasure,
     8: not the usual infinity handstand
     you probably hear from other girls
     who grab the number because
     their tiny hands can get around its waist.
     I love 8, I mean love like you don’t know.
     I love 8 like peacocks or revenge. I mean business.

      This is the number that should be a letter,
     serene, contained, indifferent, charming.
     A plump mother, pasta, pastry.
           When 36 betrays you,
     and it will, my friend,
     come to me and I will crack an 8 in half for you,
        let you drink its sweet milk, use its ends for mittens,
     or I’ll bend it as a butterfly bandage for you
     to seal up the hole above your hip
     where the worst of you broke off.

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