Fifty Degrees. Poems by Gregg Shapiro, selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the 2013 Robin Becker Chapbook Prize.
Publication: May 31, 2016 [100 copies]
Cover art by Dan Vera: www.danvera.com
Gregg Shapiro is the author of the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe Press, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), as well as the chapbook Gregg Shapiro: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012) and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008). His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, anthologies and textbooks. An entertainment journalist, whose reviews and interviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog k.d.
I Was Rebecca’s Birthday Slave
First, I massage her scalp with hot oil. My fingers
walking a trail across the top of her head to the hairline.
Back up and down to her temples, making circular
motions, little discs of peace. I brush her hair 100 times,
each side, like Jan used to do on The Brady Bunch.
We put her blonde hair up, held in place by a bleached
bone I found near the garden. Arrange daisies and
geraniums around the bun. We row out to the middle
of Indian Lake, breakfast fixings in a wicker basket.
I freshen her cup of coffee each time the cap of steam
mingles and disappears into the morning air. Spread
butter and Polaner All-Fruit over whole wheat English
muffins. Peel the skins of apples and tangerines. Pour
skim milk and maple syrup into a bowl of Kashi. I shoo
the mosquitoes and flies with paper fans, in both hands.
Ospreys circle overhead and kingfishers cruise by, keeping
a curious distance. Even the usually aloof loons can’t
seem to resist floating past, closer to the rowboat than
expected. We keep our voices low, speak in tones
reserved for poetry. Talk about the necks and shoulders
of mountains, the mysterious language of water.
A school of small fish gathers around us, puts on a show
of leaps and splashes. We shift subjects to keep up
with the clouds: art, war, music and disease. The other
slaves, clustered on the shore, wait with her robe and
sandals, their faces shining like candles on a cake.