Rochelle Hurt

Who Taught You That One?

My mother’s one lesson: waste not your wildcard
on kiddie bits for broke boys; love pays like jack shit.

Come hither the din of my siren-tongue & I hone
a slip-slither, all leg in winter, all wadded up cup.

Just a sorry spine inside a halter, she says: a diamond-
cut to curb my low-high swerve & I break like a mirror.

But a sticky hand can’t dither—I gather the dark in her
voice & tar my lips with it, easy ticket to summon

old Sunday school dreams: come hither the floor
to my knees, the cracked lip of a wallet to part my teeth

& make a man call the ceiling baby. A domino job,
they all fell for me. I summon my mother’s memory:

her pee-stick in the Kool-Aid trick suckered in cash
vacuum-quick—her baby-blue ruse, never even a man in her

own bed & still we ate French: tarte Tatin, coq au vin, mille-feuille.
She taught me to rob the bank of the body. So I suffer

the married men to come unto me. I suffer their groan-
mouths to open & now who’s whose little suckling?

Ears to my chest, they can’t hear the train for the track—
the girl who cries baby. Beneath a greased veil of breath,

I trace my mille-fleurs eyelids & count. All mine is their kingdom.

Rochelle Hurt is the author of a novel in poems, The Rusted City (White Pine, 2014). Her work appears in Best New Poets 2013, Crab Orchard Review, Mid-American Review, The Southeast Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. She is a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.