I really did cry over spilt milk.
Sobbing at breakfast, napkin in hand,
the broken glass,
the blue skim slick
spread thin as my mother’s money.
When I slipped and skinned my knee, I cried
about the pants, ripped too large for patches.
When my husky jeans un-
snapped, I tried elastic waistbands.
No loops for the Cub Scout belt
that didn’t fit anyway.
Each meeting, the Scouts got to watch my
push-ups, penalty for the incomplete uniform.
When my bike tire caught in cable car tracks,
I flew forward onto cracked
asphalt and a homeless man asked, Are you all right?
Yes, I’m fine.
I walked the mangled bike home, gravel
in my legs for two years,
scaly and bumped under the surface.
A doctor told me,
When a foreign substance enters the body,
the body expels it or surrounds it in tissue;
it’s called envagination.
This is all to say, I have a bad habit of apologizing for accidents.
Ejaculating almost feels that way.
Alone, I’ll drowse, then stumble to the shower.
With visitors it is more formal.
I gently clean their bellies with warm facecloths.
Here, I say, wiping quickly, as if the stuff had the power to kill.
Brent Calderwood is the author of The God of Longing (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014).
First appeared in the August 2008 issue.