Today's poem is by Jane Springer


Six siblings and two parents
divided by one man's wage
equals two rooms and three beds.

My father slept between his
brothers and his father's razor
strap. Some summers he slept

in his uncle's bathtub where
his eighteen-year-old aunt asked
where he would like to touch.

My mother slept in a field when
the boards of her house swelled;
there were no electric fans

on tobacco farms in Kentucky
then. Her sheets lilted over
her body with each June wind.

After they married, our parents
slept under quilts their own
mothers patched from discarded

clothes, and so their families never
left them alone: But here,
a brother's sleeve would reach

across their twin-breathed chests
as though to pass salt over a
crowded table. The dead never

do keep their hands to themselves—
and even stillborns'
empty hems cradled their toes.

Copyright © 2006 Jane Springer All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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