††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††JENNIFER MOORE






I went and caught a falling leaf, then tore it up and cried.
Poor Margaret! they say. She sees herself in the trash of a tree!
Itís true. I panic, and become the tiny pharaoh ant.
Itís his job to build, then destroy, an empire from detritus.

Spring of the leaf, and fall of the leaf. The earth breathes in,
then out, then in again. I learned that in Biology 101.
But my knowledge bores me. To entertain the local boys,
I read from forbidden books. The Invention of the Diphthong,

Sword-Swallowing and Its Effects
. We learn nothing
except how to tongue-thrust with gusto. Thatís where
the fun begins. Whole afternoons are shot to hell, spent
touching tip to tip. You know how that goes. Not well.

The hippopotamus yawns to intimidate his rival; I yawn
to put off my lover. It rarely works. Instead, I play dead
and, like the mannequin, know how to sell my stuff.
I pay for boudoir photos with proceeds from my latest book,

Seduction for Dummies. Three cheers for Margaret; of detritus,
she made empire!
But sales are slow. Months go by.
To soothe the sting, I roll my wasted effort into a dozen balls,
then stuff them into the mouths of mummified crocodiles.

Now weíre all yawning. Touching tip to tip, I fashion
a life from spit and guess the ghost with my eyes closed.
Under tree litter, someone breathes out, someone else
breathes in. Itís true; the mannequin mourns for you.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††




††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††