When that woman came for scandal, a neighbor
Nursing her big pygmy with a lightbulb head,
Mother made us leave the room, two small sons
And their sister, huddling in a dim recess
Behind the door that opened inwards with a sigh.
Away from the gossip’s glare, we each took up
A station at the strip of light, witness to
The slow unloosening of the buttons, a cup pushed
Down below her marbled breast, the fit of nipple
In a working mouth, the grunt and suck,
The fat hands scrambling at the tap. One tank drained,
She shifted to the full, and a smack of swallows
Soaked through the house again: boozer in a warm bed
With bottles clinking in the sheets. And what went down
Soon piped out loud the other end, a stink
That wrinkled noses where we hid. How easy
Those infant pleasures seemed, no wasted
Motion from meal to mess, from fare to foul.
And when she hung them away in a mangy
Blouse, the spillage toweled clean, we leaned
Back against the dark, exhausted from withdrawal,
As the talk of taint and change came to us
Calmly from the other side, the door now
Closed through the drawn balance of the afternoon.

Author Photo of Elton Glaser

About the Author

Elton Glaser, a native of New Orleans, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Akron. He has published eight full-length books of poetry, among them Pelican Tracks (Southern Illinois, 2003), winner of the Crab Orchard Poetry Award, and Here and Hereafter (Arkansas, 2005), winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. The two latest books, published in 2013, are Translations from the Flesh (Pitt Poetry Series) and The Law of Falling Bodies (Arkansas), winner of the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize.