She’s a grinder, a hill of black pepper,
a deadly spice, no shrubbery in sight.
So my father and mother after the flood
climbed to bed to try for me once more.
We can’t think about the morning screwing,
the noon screwing, the evening screwing,
then the piggy baby pooping and peeing,
or the mountain of ground black pepper
on my mother’s mashed potatoes
and my father’s bacon sandwiches.
Then years of screwing the children,
not screwing like sex, but screwing out of,
not unscrewing the turn of the screw,
but the deeper screwing of the lid on the jar,
shouted damns in the hallway, damn it,
screwing out of the ordinary nursery,
the grinding of toys and dolls into rubble.
Look, you, at the sequence of lessons,
corrupted flesh and spirit, how screwing
is grinding, how little the children knew.
Mary Meriam is the founder of Lavender Review, cofounder of Headmistress Press, editor of Irresistible Sonnets, and author of The Lillian Trilogy. Her poems have been published by The New York Times, the Poetry Foundation, Oxford University Press, National Public Radio, Penguin Random House, University Press of New England, Seal Press, and many literary journals.