Ryder Collins




There’s a woods I want to take you to. It is not a park. It is safe, though, because all the wolves have been killed off.
The squirrels scamper scamper, & the girls wear riding hoods but aren’t lost. There’s an infestation of girls since
the wolves have gone. These girls are what you could have been when you were younger but. These girls will be
our daughters. I will scoop them up with a butterfly net. I will use delicate pins on their kneejoints and armpits.
They will be classified and domesticated; they will belong. Their wingdust will collect in the corners of our house.
We will shake it out each spring.

You will have all the daughters you want. I will bring them to you. I will lead them from these woods with my
accordion. We’ll be a house of girls. We will make our own town of girls, and we will make a town hall in our attic.
We will pantomime laws. We will pantomime pancakes and eggs on Sunday. We will pantomime free-range chickens
and a rooster that crows us out of bed. We will pantomime Maypole dancing and sacrifices. We will pantomime love.
It will be enough.

Our house will be chatterings & popcorn & movies and veganism & all the stray cats will line up in our alleyway & all
the stray dogs will mooch outside the front door and our young’ll come in with earthworms & turtles & salamanders
& newts & squirrels in their pockets, and I will be a proud papa. A squirreled papa. I’ll line the girls up for new snow
shoes; I’ll empty their pockets into terrariums & peanut butter jars & pyrex. Some of them will surprise me with closed
fists that open into handfuls of honeybees that buzz into our bedroom. You’ll watch as they wander like drunks from
corner bar to corner bar. You’re wearing a 1930’s starlet satin robe I bought you. You’re sipping the pre-dinner highball
I brought you. I’ll sit the girls down for dinner around our oaken table, & I’ll divvy up the nuts for winter before I join you.

This woods ain’t no garden. I have creeped electrical wires to see you dance in your bra and panties for a date that’s
not with me. I’ve watched you go down in that basement naked & come back up with laundry. I’ve watched you
drink red wine. I will always watch you drink red wine. I am the tannins in the wine. I’m the molecules that make the red
shine. I’m forever on your lips or in your belly or on your breath. I feel you take me for granted like words or the girls
in the woods coming home every day or even your tongue. I am the one that bounces those taste buds into being. I am
the one that says, Go. I am the one that says, Cinnamon. Ginger. Coriander. C’mere.

You say you don’t want daughters. You say. But that’s a lie, I know. You lie to me always when I show up as the Mormon,
when I show up as the accordionist, when I show up as FedEx, when I show up as the bum who pounds on your door
at 4 am and then shouts through your open window that your trash can’s on fire, when I show up as the teenage arsonist,
even when I show up as the big-hosed firefighter. You won’t look at my suspenders, my big boots. You don’t even say
thanks as I spray the flames out. You want to run to your ex’s arms, but he has a new hottie and he has me as a bestie
now. We could all double-date. We could picnic wine and brie and bread and then roll down the big hills in the park across
your house. We could all end up in a laughing heap at the bottom. Or, better yet, we could drink all the wines up and push
your ex and ex’s hottie down the hill & then make out on a park bench. Why won’t you answer my calls? Why can’t you see
our fate in melted garbage bin? Burned out & twisty-crisp; it looks like our conjoined hearts. It looks like squirrels. It looks
like a squeezed accordion. It looks like our future daughters waiting in the alley.