A shirtless boy in chair at the center of a kitchen
sits still like the silt lip of a slight waterfall
and lets the sweat pour. There is so much saltwater
in a house with a broken air conditioner
that all the people must flail their arms
to stay above it, and with all that splashing
like mad dolphins, flipper hits flipper,
and thing after thing gets hurt.
His parents will not go through the terrible process
of picking the nits. Like Monkeys, like fucking monkeys,
his mother keeps saying. She hates monkeys. Too wild.
Too hairy. They'll shave his head, though they know
he loves his hair, because boy hair doesn't matter. He cries
His tears only fill up the house
with more water, with more salt, they are as insignificant
as the rain filling up the ocean. No one notices.
She beats him with the hair brush, and he gasps, but it seems as usual
as the breath that accompanies the oar
as it pushes some small, sad dingy back to its sad shore
It's nearly an hour past his bedtime and he's still in the blue
folding chair when she yanks him up and down,
and shakes him like she shakes his wet clothes
from the washer, just to let him know she's bigger.
She's the sea. He's whatever she'll allow, maybe a minnow.
Maybe a diver in a diving bell with his great silver
unpoppable bubble, silent except for the water and the prayer
for his lice and his mother to die.