Cali Linfor


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Cali Linfor Nectarines

Heís a good man.

I am laughing with nectarine in my teeth
                                                            when she says it.
                                                                                                                                                 Let me translate:

I should be grateful.   He must be a good man   to take me.

          my shriveled parts, my broken-down thumbs, my mutations
                              and drink of them.

She notices every finger as she examines
                                                                  my great-grandmotherís engagement ring.
                             Her gaze strays to the inner arch
                                                                                                                                               of my hand,
                                                                                                                                     she sees
                                                                                                                                                my thumb tender

                                                                                                                                                without the weight of knuckles.

Her breath, sweet from milky tea, gasps at the sight
                   but not as much as to disturb
                                                the necklace at her throat. My wrist
         trembles as she realizes her thumb presses a scar
                                                                                                                                     from my second surgery.

My smallest imperfection. Unnoticed before. Her long pause, Do you mind if I ask…?


                                               I wind out the tale of my genetics.

                             Will you have children?

                                                                                                                                                Always the next question
                                                                                                                                                           disturbing me
&bbsp;                                                                                                                                           like a strangerís hand
                                                                                                                                                 on a pregnant belly.

                            Of course.
                                                                                     Eyes shifting colors. Gray.
W.E.B Dubois writes of the veil
                            he bears his children into. The black veil. The darkness
of hate. He loves his child
                                                         but   this is his gift to him.

My womb is such a veil. I could pass this on
                                                         like a beauty mark
                                                                                                                                     or crooked teeth.
Then, she says it again, He must be a good man.

                                      The urge to spit
in her face

                      to question the viability of my children
                                                                                                                                                as if they were cars.

Yes, irresistible
                     as telling the children I grew up with

                                A wild dog bit off my thumbs
                                                                                                                                    and he is still about

                                                                                                                                                                                  the place.


Cali Linfor teaches at SDSU, where she lectures in rhetoric, composition and writing. She served for sixteen years as poetry editor of Epicenter Literary Magazine; she has published poems, articles, and short stories in The Beloit Poetry Review, Manzanita Review, Ekphrasis, and others. Linfor was born with a genetic disability that has influenced her examinations of beauty and ugliness, and her encounters with reading and writing as a child were affected by dyslexia. Her first book, A Book of Ugly Things, appears in Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems.