Wash Behind Your Ears

This poem is a little less food-focused, though the culinary images are still there. This is different from a lot of the things I have written, so I would love some feedback on the style, as well as any other comments!

wash behind your ears or you aren’t getting supper

wendy flew out the nursery
window, cookies cooling on the sill
run, run, fast as you can
you can’t catch me, i’m the
wendy bird, i’m flying, i got happy thoughts
a top hat, silk nightgown, and beg me as you
might i’m not coming down.

she flew past the theatre district,
could smell the mushrooms and the chicken
getting to know one another in pastry
crust, the sandman came and kissed her
lashes, umbrellas, it’s raining cats and
dogs are falling from the sky
she’s flying, second start to the right
straight on til morning
light, tangerine, lemon, russet, ruby
red cheeks and sheet marks on
round calves and elbow dimples.

she’s breaking through bones,
cracking ribs through the midnight she
follows peter, following him but
knowing that she was really leading the way
the compass pointing which way to go
godmother willow snapping her
vines against the mermaid lagoon,
rippling, sex and scales,
soaring into violet fields,
falling, sleeping, finally, for days,
years, a house is built around her
with thickets and clovers,
she is tarragon sleeping, she is marjoram flying;
she wakes up,

next to peter, he brings her a cup of  peach tea
in a chipped cup
sweetened with sap.
they lie together, become ten,
then fifteen, then ageless again
counting the freckles

along one another’s spines they’re seventeen,
or nineteen, peter can’t figure out how to unhook
a bra, so she does it for him,
she does it for herself,
in the ink smudged dew drop palace
of neverland.

now he unhooks it in
public places, the lost boys know
her secrets, she doesn’t
mind, over matter, she doesn’t
watch the sidewalk cracks before she
steps on them like caterpillars,
inch worms tell her that she needs to
start using conditioner and mineral
powder on her face, freckles are for the
young, now it’s just paint, oil,
and you need turpentine in your bathwater at night

when the sickle moon slivers through the sycamore
trees, the clock is ticking in the crocodiles
belly grumbles, dinner is almost ready,
and can i have a story with my supper if
i promise to wash the dishes,
wash behind my ears?

wendy’s a darling clementine turned
potpourri in the sock drawer, thick socks,
woolen socks, she darns laundry in the evening
while peter rubs her shoulders,
she has menstrual cramps and all the lost
boys fear menstruation is airborne,
singing them to sleep she kisses
angel cheeks and lost
marble men turned boys turned frogs turned
badgers, don’t forget to let it out
the dog, it’s barking, at the moon.

mercury is in retrograde
everything is upside down, topsy turvy
a baobab tree growing from my spine
curvy hips, “where did they come from,”
wendy wonders glancing at her
reflection in the mirror and any other
glass surface that reminds you you’re there,
standing, and you better look good doing it
because no one is getting out of
neverland alive so keep your mouth shut
and talk pretty

but what’s pretty when
the planets are stewing and marinating
the tree trunks with maple syrup, citric acid
rain falling onto silk slips and worn-out hiking boots
up the mountains, through the caves
wall paintings done with jasmine rice,
curry, grapes, and jam, preserves,
fruit depressed, compressed inside a ball jar but
wine isn’t and wendy wants a sip
and she wants to dance, barefoot,
onto broken glass, footprints on wet leaves
leave the bottle on the counter
for an hour
so the flavor is robust,
like coffee, chicory, brew it like they do in new orleans
to bring the flavor, not the acid
tastes like mud,
that’s supposed to be good,
and wood chips and plaster,

plaster over the nursery window,
wendy isn’t going back,
she worries about
her brothers, helps them find
their glasses, socks, do they have holes in their
bed linens swimming in sweat and crumbs
because who has time for laundry
crawling through one another’s skin,
drawing x marks the spot on sesame ankles,
allspice and Chinese five spice are fighting an army
on peter’s skin, they lead to treasure ships
pirated time stolen treasure chest romance
whistle while you work, rearrange the furniture
in the spring time to avoid the sunlight
it cooks your cells and tires you out
worse than dancing, romancing,
and what’s up, tiger lily, why would you ever
go home when
peter is kissing wendy where she forgot to wash behind her ears?


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