MULCH


Loosening is what seems to be happening,
the once taut muscles of my hamstrings
and calves letting go like an untuned
string instrument, and my belly,
stretched out four times
to become the globe, is a bowl
of pudding quivering on the shelf.
Imperceptibly, each year my breasts
lower to meet my thighs. Women
in my family lose their edges early,
grow rounder, like meatballs, chin
to bosom to stomach, as the years
roll by. Shoulders slope like the worn-
down Appalachians. Gravity
always wins. Trees exfoliate
bark and leaves; worms and beetles
turn it into duff. I breathe in,
standing as tall as my crumbling
vertebrae will let me, in Mountain
Pose, holding off, as long as I can,
the slow descent to mulch.
Barbara Crooker
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