milk bags reserved for human children
in the mirror, the handsome rat smirks
and licks his protruding lip, bidding me do the same,
and i oblige, as i bring my head close,
press my cheek against the vanity
so that his little adhesive tongue slips into my ear,
whispering about the babies he hatched inside me,
the nursling rats nestling and nesting between my breasts, gnawing
on the milk bags reserved for human children,
gnawing until they break the bags, and i cry
milk and there are no children
i move my head away from the mirror
and see the rat, still smirking, malevolent, wishing he could outlive me,
watch me grow old,
but every other month he dies. i see him,
deflating like a carnival toy, and a new rat greets me in the morning,
accusing me of trying to make their whole race extinct.
i just don’t like being an animal, i tell him,
i don’t want to have things grow inside me,
even as they reflect me, even as i’m reflected in them.
i’d like to throw away the bags,
i’d like to let the milk boil over the stove, curl up like smoke.
i’d like that smoke to feed no one.
i’d like to be the mirror, the cold surface between
one rat and the other.