The Right Way to Say Things

Oh, my poor, sweet country mouse.
All that glisters is not gold.
Did you know that? Did you know it’s glisters,
not glitters? Well, it is. Whatever you learned there
in that one-room schoolhouse or pistachio-green
cinder block institutional monster half-wit factory
where you spent, I’m sure, many happy years–
well, anyway, it’s wrong, dear.
If you come with me, I’ll teach you
the right way to say things, and together
we’ll unlearn all your “rustic” manners.
Who knows? Maybe you can teach me a thing or two!
How to churn butter, perhaps, or the proper way to skin a deer.
Darling, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You didn’t know better then,
when you were seven years old and eight, picking your nose
and wearing hand-me-down cotton nightgowns, faded and softened
by someone else’s body. You didn’t know when you were barefoot,
half-naked and oblivious in your own front yard, in the dirt
where the chickens scrabbled by the flagpole.
Soon I’ll have you shining like a brand new wheat penny,
your mind as tight as a drum, your limbs firm and smooth,
and everything — everything — ready to be admired.


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