He stole a potato from a bin
by the icebox, gray metal, three
spots of black dirt. He tasted dirt
and raw potato, his mother above
him, hands soapy from dishwater,
fingers forcing his mouth open, then
the taste of her. He sucked marbles
kept in a sock, cold little eyes, steelies
he shot through the neighborhood.
He lied to his mother. She said
it was gambling to play for keeps.
He crouched by her bureau, smelled
lipstick and powder, watched rhinestones
glint in a beveled box. He is the landfill
he read about, ten-year-old steak
wrapped in newspapers, marbled fat,
muscle of meat buried in garbage,
none of it taken back by the ground.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.