Little Children, My Apologies

By Camille Rankine

I was considering the sea: all the colors
it has taught me, how water is at once
both life and deadly.
In my comfortable way, I come to learn, the dangers
are many and oblique:
the microwave will kill me, this plastic bottle, this air,
this meat, my debit card and its hidden fees. I’m telling you,
I have no power here. I’m just a dummy swaddled
in worry and want, tethered
by two small rooms, a few small thoughts.
You know how the body is
a fragile thing. Phosphorus gleams, clings
to your skin and won’t let go,
and my great sleep spreads out into the day
like milk spilled on the cold tile floor.
I am thinking of you. The dark is chilly,
framed by the window. Outside
they are constructing another tower.
A high-rise, this time. The progress is quick.
The walls are bones. One naked bulb glows
in each half-built home.


Camille Rankine, “Little Children, My Apologies” from Incorrect Merciful Impulses. Copyright © 2016 by Camille Rankine. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, All rights reserved.