Once, I was born from an indefatigable
incision. My father taught me the riddle
of the Sphinx the way some parents
teach their children to read a compass.
I’d sit in my nightgown and sing to myself,
Four legs in the morning, two at noon,
three legs in the nighttime. I hungered
for the body of a lion and a woman’s face.
They were inside me, hidden,
in a cyst full of hair, lung-buds,
or teeth. I had a cousin, she was monstrous
beautiful like a slap across the mouth,
and her bag was full of lipstick and maraschino
cherries. I used to sit up late as a watchman,
used to imagine myself setting
the hounds on her, over and over again.