Hi, Little Prince, by Rose Auslander

In these dry days, I wash my hands a lot.
No big deal, except
they’re turning translucent.
You could read everything I’ve ever written
inside them. My daughter says
they look like snakes
trying to digest elephants.
My husband sees baobab trees,
their greedy roots groping toward my heart.
Most people just tell me to use moisturizer.

Oh, my pocket-sized prince, why didn’t I understand
back then, when you warned me about grown-ups?
How they look at a boa constrictor and see a hat.
How most don’t see the trees outside them,
much less the ones inside.
But I was so small
I listened when they told me to hush
and sew my hands into my pockets.
While I watched you tending your creatures and
watering your cranky rose,
I shut my mouth and sewed with my teeth.
I backstitched, blanketstitched, blindstitched,
until I forgot what hands were.

Who knew my eyes would end up so tightly sewn
shut in my brain,
how long that thread could last,
or how much washing it would take to unravel my seams?
I didn’t mean to scrub away your sheep
and the boxes where they used to live,
to soap off your elephants, and the foxes you tamed —
and now, the flower you gave me has caught a cold.

I tell myself, if I go to bed, she’ll feel better.
If I get up, she’ll feel better.
Everyone tells me to put on gloves.
I can see they’re starting to worry,
but I vow not to listen.
If I wash every time a sun rises somewhere
and another one sets, surely, there’s still time
to fill the empty stone well in my palms
with clean, fresh water,
let my flower drink her fill
and carry her to the star where you fell.

***

Rose Auslander is Poetry Editor of Folded Word Press.  She is co-editor of the Twitter anthology, On A Narrow Windowsill; she has read her poems on NPR; her poem “For You Mothers” received a Pushcart nomination; “Oh My” received a Best of the Net nomination, and she is a Regular Contributor to Referential Magazine.    Also look for Rose’s work in cur-ren-cy, Right Hand PointingBlue Fifth Review (scroll down), Cyclamens and Swords (scroll down); The Dead MuleEye Socket Journal, and Red Dirt Review. Visit The Literary Lawyer for an excerpt of Rose’s upcoming memoir about surviving as a pregnant first-year law student and nursing her way through to her diploma. For updates, follow Rose’s blog.

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