the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Stella Padnos-Shea

Tupperware Home Party, 1958

We are sitting in a circle, we are white, smiling and clean,
like the mouths of the Tupperware bowls we celebrate.
The woman at the center opens a lid, or is she closing it,
what is her relationship to chaos, is she willing to become unleashed.
We are sitting, hands in our laps, clasped, thighs pressed
as if our seats are crowded, as if we're saving room,
as if we're luggage overpacked and are about to rupture.
Speak to us, Tupperware leader,
of what we can store in a white plastic shell.
You will tell me how to set my hair in rollers,
perhaps using bottle-shaped containers.
Everything will be just so, oh won't it?

There is a mural behind us,
an expansive image of trees and grass and shade.
Have I misplaced something in these woods?
I keep turning my head to see behind me.
I bet I could lay something down in that made-up grass
and no one would find it but me; no one would know to look.
Say, a key or a dime or my interior life,
the part that leaves me when I awaken.
A part of me that is too small or too large for these Tupperware containers,
something I would not be serving my husband as leftovers on Thursday.
I have never realized my loneliness, Miss Tupperware leader,
until I arrived to your Sarasota home, a lovely living room it is.
You are closing the lid, as I feared you would, and my chaos,
my true self, is sealed.


Existential Patchy Kit

His death: a temporary eventuality.
While mourning is our tyrant, his cracks are sealed,
his holes filled. We are starting to go under.
His context changes. A breath glows: his?
I am begging.
The big bang all over again, but personal.

Gutted and renovated.
A car battery fused into an alarm clock;
this energy beyond flicks and vibes.
I imagine him re-imagined:
triggered, re-vamped.
A stranger will be born, one step closer
to full repair. We will never meet.
And it will be him.


Autopsy of the Wedding Gown

unzip your cover/flesh
in a body bag

laying face-up on the dining room table
chemicals to preserve you
in years I may unearth you and expect no smell

look at what covers the body
then go deeper
you have to be ready for the wake

I'm sorry,
when I wear you

when I put your skin over mine
make us look like our old selves
it's uncomfortable to wear

this extra layer/skin
people stare
choosing their favorite flaw

they expect me to look half dead and fully made up
but I lay
secure in my peeling



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