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You are not electricity snaking out

in the moist direction, or a plane speeding

toward flight. You are not even an insect

evading a predator. Instead, you sit

on the floor breathing, because really

there is no choice in this life but to allow

air in and out of your lungs thousands

of times an hour. How are you, I foolishly

asked my grandmother. Well, considering

the alternatives. In an alternative life,

I would be a grandmother now. In this life

I am connected to her past and the little

I remember her cautionary stories

some related to the needle trades, some

for girls who are so easy to ruin. I told

a different set of stories to my daughter

though judging by her reaction

Are you nostalgic for when this

was a bad neighborhood? my words

were just as useless as teaching tales.

When you walk with sticks, the ground

under your feet shifts and slides.


Carol Dorf's poetry appears in "Shofar," "Bodega," "E-ratio," "Great Weather For Media," "About Place," "Glint," "Slipstream," "The Mom Egg," "Sin Fronteras," "Surreal Poetics," "The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics," "Scientific American," and "Maintenant." She is founding poetry editor of Talking Writing and teaches math in Berkeley. She is interested in the intersections between poetry, disability, science and parenting.

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