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from The Uses of the Body
Before you have kids,
you get a dog.
Then when you get a baby,
you wait for the dog to die.
When the dog dies,
it’s a relief.
When your babies aren’t babies,
you want a dog again.
The uses of the body,
you see where they end.
But we are only in the middle,
The organs growing older in their plush pockets
ticking toward the wearing out.
We are here and soon won’t be
(despite the cozy bed stuffed dog pillows books clock).
The boy with his socks on and pajamas.
A series of accidental collisions.
Pressure in the chest. Everyone breathing
for now, in and out, all night.
These sad things, they have to be.
I go into the kitchen thinking to sweeten myself.
Boiled eggs won’t do a thing.
Oysters. Lysol. Peanut butter. Gin.
Big babyface, getting fed.
I am twenty. I am thirty. I am forty years old.
A friend said Listen,
you have to try to calm down.
Deborah Landau is the author of three books of poems, including The Uses of the Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). She teaches in and directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University.