Adam Tamashasky

Reading Goodnight Moon to my Daughter

She surrenders her year-old head
to my chest
as I give her a lesson
on how to die.
“Goodnight room.”
Goodnights are goodbyes, I know,
and she’ll have to learn.
Cast your kisses to the moon,
then to the picture of the moon
with a cow sailing above—
so soft do we move
from the real to the fragile.
Then the bunny
in the bed prepares
for his dark passage—
Ella, when your last night comes on,
may someone nearer to you
than memory sit by
to smile and rock and whisper
“hush” as you go.

Charles Darwin Visits Polynesia

Daughter of the tribe, she smeared the poison
paste over one nipple—one would suffice—

with one steady hand. The other hand held
her daughter, new-born, rumpled and sleeping.
The men always order it; the mothers
carry through—some cover the mouths with dung

before the first breaths. The little bodies
twist and kick, ignorant of why they fight.

They’ll never taste air.
                                     But other women
will do like this good daughter of the tribe

who sits before this staring white stranger
just off a boat. She cannot understand

the sounds he makes, the ways his eyes furrow
as he watches the child slurp at her smeared breast

as he watches the shrunk body shriek back
as he watches the tremors, watches death

throttle the baby to sleep. He watches.
He sees the female roll down her long arms,

into a shallow trench, that body.

Adam Tamashasky teaches writing at American University in Washington, D.C., where he lives after growing up and attending college in Ohio. His poetry has most recently appeared in Cold Mountain Review and
491 Magazine, and his fiction has been in the Bellevue Literary Review, Redivider, Folio, and Illya’s Honey.



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