"The Cosmic Dance"

The following poem is technically a gift from my daughter — I wouldn’t have written it had it not been for her. Maybe that sounds a little too sentimental, but it’s true. It was first published in Rattle #37, summer 2012, and can also be found here.

When our daughter feeds she cups her mother’s breast like a football.
Like a football because that’s all I know to say when I see her hand
around the breast’s swollen end. I’d like to burn my language away
from male things, would like to say later when I’m holding her, see
this ball, forget this ball. You don’t need to throw a thing,
don’t need to learn the perfect spiral grip, how the index finger should rest
far back, how to throw overhand in a 12-to-6 clock face angle, snap down
with so much action in the elbow the wind in your ear cracks. But I’m made
of meat and leather. I’ve been beaten by my brothers into the grass,
have looked downfield at the blitz of red leaves only to be sandwiched
between brutes. A few face plants, dog shit on your chin and the stuff
of ball fields sticks. Now I’m doing the Heisman pose in the mirror,
baby girl tucked under my arm, my right leg suspended like blue
Shiva Nata-raja, the god who kills and makes the world. I have less
than a season to hold this dance still before my arm grows too short to hold
my daughter, before her legs twitch out of this mirror, before she dances
her own sweet destruction.