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I Know How You Must Feel, Brad

There’s this tall pole erected in our neighborhood’s cul-de-sac

and everyone knows that when it starts playing circus music

it’s time to go inside, stand in the bathtub, and wait for the signal

that means it’s okay to come out (which is a mechanical circus bear
who unlocks all the bathroom doors) but this time when the music starts

my sister’s all epidermis under the showerhead, not expecting company,

and every time she gets excited a dead bird comes out of her mouth,

so when dad pulls the shower curtain back and we all step in

I can see that wet little body of feathers working its way up her throat

and all at once she’s swallowing it back down and saying I swear
I’ll make a list of every possible way to die and the moment I’m done

I’ll kill myself, and dad is saying Could someone please close the door

so the circus bear can unlock it? and mom is saying Oh my god

is that a tattoo? and we’re all clustered in that tile cave and I’m envious

of clams, how some creatures stay alone in pearly shelters.

The feathers are pushing out past my sister’s lips and I think

at least caves are better than nests, the mother bird gyrating

around and around until the nest conforms to the shape of her breast

and I picture mom thrusting herself around a mom-shaped house,

a mom-shaped bathtub filled with family, which makes me
anxious, so I go outside to find that the world has disappeared

and it is now my job to reconstruct the entire lazy thing atom

by atom. It can’t be hard. Every location on earth can be described

by three numbers. I take my first step into nothing and conjure up

a lawn chair, one that reclines, somewhere to sit where I can

watch everything come back to me, this time in silence.

On Thursdays I Clean the River

Ever since it occurred to me to tell the animals how to kill themselves, I’ve been finding possums on the bottom, their pouches filled with rocks. A friend of mine weeps on the banks of the Mississippi. He does not know I told healthy animals how to perform actions that result in their immediate demise; he just loves the constant rushing, thinks that river is mighty. Today the horses are giving up. It is a day for horse-made deaths. And birds! Birds are dropping from the sky like feathered fruits that I collect on the walk home to fill my horn of plenty. Lord, I didn’t think they would do it. I just thought they should know they could. And Lord, that river’s not just mighty, it’s goddamn mighty, and now, deep in its mightiness, is a goddamn gloomy eight-foot catfish eying a rusty hook.