“I am child to no one, mother to a few,
and wife for the long haul.”
I am child to a mother, father to a daughter,
and husband for as long as my wife will have me.
I am clumsy giant to my cat, raining cloud
to my house plants, and twin brother to my mirrors.
To my refrigerator I am surgeon
who removes liverwurst from its guts.
To my stove I am both arsonist and fireman.
To my chair and table I am shoehorn.
I am blood-sucking vampire to my cup,
hairy pearl to my pillow, and fountain to my toilet.
To my toothbrush I am harmonica player.
My aging face is how my wall clock tells time.
I am sunken ship to my bathtub, two-fingered hand
to my pants, and passing comet to my globe.
To my pen I am conductor. To my lamp
I am only what makes a shadow.
I am the thick stem to my flowering book,
to my hair I’m the alien landscape
that grows no fauna except itself,
and to my windows, who know me best,
sometimes I am the pleasant portrait
to which they are frames and other times
I am the tear that makes them blink.
JAMES VALVIS is the author of How To Say Goodbye (Aortic Books, 2011). His writing can be found in Arts & Letters, Atlanta Review, LA Review, Rattle, River Styx, and is forthcoming in Anderbo, Crab Creek Review, Drunken Boat, Hanging Loose, Midwest Quarterly, New York Quarterly, and many others. His poetry has been featured at Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry blog. His fiction has twice been a storySouth Million Writers Notable Story. He lives near Seattle with his wife and daughter.