Lunch Poems

Humility & Co.

A new poem about the things families say and do during the holidays—when some words mean nothing, and some wreck meals.

I left a little cake, a little note:
I’m sorry if I threw up on your Christmas.
Dear, you can call it catharsis, it’s still
bad manners. As if it were possible
to cancel all the flux inside, one wakes,
a levitating magnet. This is physics,
friends: the law of tell-you-when-you’re-older,
ends that justify a good cry on
an iffy shoulder in the interregnum.
Wire-mother loves to cuddle the holidays
away, swings her dinner bell and waits
for drooling. Here, the crossroads of psychosis
and bad grammar where “someone” becomes “they”
and no one cares anymore. I guess I just
mean inexact, the loss or at the very
least a lack of basics. Take a penny,
leave a penny. It’s been a pleasure. Close
the door gently and please hit the hall light
when you leave. One option is embrace
stasis, and yet some days the heart’s
this dirty, matted mutt trembling at the feet
of the family passing time between trains
in the station café: “Look, Mom! It wants
something!” Let’s walk down and watch them
fire the cannon. Let’s see if they’re still putting
the puppet show on in this rain.

Dora Malech is the author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). She was the recipient of a 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, and her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Poetry, American Letters & Commentary, Poetry London, and The Yale Review. More by Dora Malech