in Lake Wobegon there are no trailers
there are no 9-year-old girls
alone in trailers
on beautiful summer
days not fishing with
their dad, sister, & step
mother. Come Home.
a craggy voice lulls you
to a childhood you never lived
listen long enough to replace
yours with ice fishing, Lutherans,
and hot dish: come home.
in Minnesota, things
your 9-year-old mouth refuses
to wrap around do not happen
say aliens. say devil. say mono-
come home. Our Father,
who art in a cassette tape.
in third grade I had not heard
of Lake Woe Be Gone
when I peed on the floor
in math class: the combination
FEAR + SHAME(not knowing
my times tables).
Jennifer Loney! I said what is
seven times six?
In answer Mister Teacher, let me offer
this puddle on your floor, perhaps it knows.
Wearing blue sweat pants belonging
to JR Hinkman, who'd puked 3 weeks
earlier, and carrying my wet pink corduroys
around—come home—in a plastic
bag. Other kids had parents who'd
bring them clothes from home
when they peed and puked at school
but JR and me, we wore other kids'
clothes and forgot ours at school,
too tired to carry our plastic bags anymore
and no body even noticed we left
in different clothes than we returned in—
3. [Come Home]
so I went home and made myself
a tape recording of my voice
repeating all the times tables
one times one is one
one times two is two
(don't skip the easy ones)
one times three is three
all the way to eight times seven is fifty-six
and nine times nine, eighty-one!
all night through I listened on repeat
until morning they were planted
smooth on my tongue and yes
all manner of bad things may happen
from nine until nineteen
but by God and Garrison
I'd answer seven times six
is forty-two and in this way
even nine would be pacified