Alan Michael Parker

A poem for Sally

He thought he might swallow whole
his youngest daughter, if she didn’t stop
hurting herself. She would complain,

of course, carry on inside his big dad-belly,
but she would be safe there
until she was ready to come back.

He would swallow the moon
to keep her company, one white slice
sliding down to arrive in her arms,

and he would drink and drink a river
so she could see how beautiful.
Things would be comforting—stuff to touch—

but she would probably need something to do.
Maybe he would swallow for her
a rowboat with a trolling motor,

and maybe a jug of OJ,
and maybe even an MP3 player.
Ashore, she could ride her own small horse

if she wanted. She could eat cheesecake,
wear the bangled green skirt,
sing badly, softly, always shy,

no need for pain.
Peace, the fish dreamy, all music,
as the cranes or egrets—

some kind of giant bird—would unfold
awkwardly their paperclip bodies,
flap in slo-mo their wings,

and then launch themselves
wide and low over the marsh grass.
The stars would burn into the sky behind her,

and she would row into the middle of the river,
where there’s never a mirror,
to drift, oars up.