I am lazy, the laziest
girl in the world.
I sleep during the day when I want to,
'til my face is creased and swollen,
'til my lips are dry and hot.
I eat as I please: cookies and milk
after lunch, butter and sour cream
on my baked potato, foods that
slothful people eat, that turn
yellow and opaque beneath the skin.
Sometimes come dinnertime Sunday
I am still in my nightgown, the one
with the lace trim listing because
I have not mended it.
Many days I do not exercise, only consider it,
then rub my curdy belly and lie down. Even
my poems are lazy.
I use syllabics instead of iambs,
prefer slant to the gong of full rhyme,
write briefly while others go for pages.
And yesterday, for example, I did not work at all!
I got in my car and drove to
factory outlet stores, purchased
stockings and panties and socks
with my father's money.
To think, in childhood I missed only
one day of school per year. I went
to ballet class four days a week
and on Saturdays, beginning always
with plie, ending with curtsy.
To think, I knew only industry,
the industry of my race
and of immigrants, the radio
tuned always to the station
that said, Line up your summer
job moths in advance.
Work hard and do not shame your family,
who worked hard to give you what you have.
There is no sin but sloth.
Burn to a wick and keep moving.
I avoided sleep for years,
up at night replaying
evening news stories about
nearby jailbreaks, fat people
who ate fried chicken and woke up dead.
In sleep I am looking for poems
in the shape of open V's
of birds flying in formation,
or open arms saying, I forgive you, all.
From Body of Life by Elizabeth Alexander, pulbished by Tia Chucha Press. Copyright 1996 by Elizabeth Alexander.
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