mad daughter of a wise mother

mad daughter of a wise mother

by Rachael Gay

A jinx is a four letter word bad enough

to make me wash my entire mouth with soap

then tip my head forwards until it flows skyward

and scrubs my brain clean.

My knuckles are permanently bruised,

cracked and bleeding from knocking on every piece of wood I find.

The blindfold wraps around my eyes

compressing tighter and tighter until it

lifts and I am standing on the loamy forest floor

hands shaking, a fallen leaf.

The only way to pull away from the shattering,

to prevent this encroaching aching thing is to ball up my aching hands

into tight fists and imitate the woodpecker,

pointed middle finger knuckles raised among their sisters

in the crudest imitation of beak.

I'm more superstitious than I care to admit.

I don't walk under ladders.

I throw salt over my shoulder upon the spill.

Today, I stop in the middle of the gang plank

to ask the sailors if the boat was christened.

If not I purchase the champagne myself.

I give myself more credit than I will ever truly deserve and

place myself in the cockpit with hands hovering over controls

Here I see myself as a chemist, a general,

when what power have I ever really held?

Not a born leader but a follower born of yet another

a decedent from an ancient line of spineless invertebrates.

I have grown used to my tongue that stumbles over practiced words

whenever I am in front of a crowd but still I self flagellate.

I haven't prayed in years but I cross myself anyway.

Rachael Gay is a poet and artist living in Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Quail Bell, Rag Queens, Déraciné Magazine, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review and others. More of her work can be found at

Image by Pamela Machado, found on Flickr:

#poetry #rachaelgay

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