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Michelle Bitting has work forthcoming or published in Glimmer Train, Swink, Prairie Schooner, Clackamas Literary Review, The Southeast Review, Gargoyle, Pearl, Rattle, Slipstream, Dogwood, Phoebe, and others. Formerly a dancer and a chef, she teaches children and is a devoted outreach worker. Michelle has won both the Glimmer Train and Poet’s On Parnassus poetry contests. She was a finalist in the 2003 Writers At Work Fellowship Competition, semi-finalist for the Julia Peterkin Award and won Honorable Mention in the Art In The Air/Inventing The Invisible Contest. This summer, she will attend the Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Phil Abrams, an actor. They have two children, Elijah and Vera Rose.

                     -for David

Sometimes when I lift the chalice
to a brother’s tongue,
and tip the gleaming cup so just enough
wine flows in, the sweet red sea parting
two lip-lands like an Exodus in reverse,
my hand might accidentally brush
the other’s cheek, our skins kissing briefly,
and the moment is so raw,
so vulnerable between us, anything rough
or unclean suddenly melts, passes away—
as if we have no skin,
and we are naked and new all over again,
and shame is a fruit left dangling on the vine.



We’d almost given up any hope of celebrating.
My son, a carnival of fears and funky rituals
had made it clear—no costumes, no doorbells,
no parading about the dark neighborhood
in white sheets, swelling pumpkin sack
curled in five expectant fingers.
Not the ordinary panic a child might have
of spooky clatter, windows flashing
ghoulish shapes against the late October sky.
No, this boy’s dread springs from a remote
and wordless place, beyond understood borders.
His explanation lost in a haze of drowsy synapses,
his silence final and still, left to sway
alone in the lynching breeze.
So when he suddenly announced
the afternoon before
his wakened need to be Tinkerbell,
I ran for the green tights, glittered wings
to circle his two small shoulders.
Out of Tinkertoy, he pushed together a wand.
And when the moment came
to face the night’s trickery,
he opened the door and announced
to the decorated crowd drifting by
(as if he’d just risen from a very long sleep),
“Look, the world is dressing up!”
Yes, we answered him, yes,
and you are part of it.


Whatever It Was

Whatever it was that made you stop last night,
go limp and flop, all the air suddenly taken
from your sex like a sprung tire—exhaustion,
routine, the artifice between our skins.
Whatever made me flee
the house like Zorro, pause
at an abandoned yard nearby
to cleave wanton fruit off branches
like corsets from their owners.
Whatever it was, it’s nice to be
curled this morning, naked
on your lap, lit up fuzz of your thighs
tickling me underneath,
the tang of a new plum
ripe in my mouth,
sweet and firm with possibility.

© 2005 Michelle Bitting




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