Din­ner in Los Angeles, Rain­ing in July

The Iowa Review - - CONTENTS - Max Ritvo

The black night is a sea urchin. The sea urchin is my mother mov­ing on spiny feet, meat clot­ting with her desires.

But meat isn’t the only thing that moves the feet— the cold sky puck­ers them, shafts of gnats tickle them, and the aroma of all things burns on the ground.

The feet won’t obey her. Ev­ery foot has a hunch in the wilder­ness.

* As the sprin­klers bru­tal­ize the win­dow, the sun set­ting into city light,

you ask to see my plate, my plate still stud­ded with green beans.

Think­ing fast, I pitch up my voice into a story about Dad try­ing to plug up go­phers in the yard,

about how when Pra­jap­ati opened his mouth, he birthed the fire that eats fathers— like a hose spray­ing go­phers into his face.

* The only stars left are moth­ers.

Be­hind the urchin of the night is the ocean of the night. Mother says, Eat some­thing: I’m giv­ing up on you.


Ex­cus­ing my­self for the bath­room, I walk out the kitchen door and into the wet yard.

Above me are stars but no con­stel­la­tions.

They won’t join tonight— even with their own kind.

I think, had they worn the woolly clouds as wigs, no­body would’ve mis­taken their bright eyes for bald spots— not even them­selves, poor crit­i­cal things.

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