A Favor of Love

Original Text: 
Molly Peacock, Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002): 19-20.
1             "Thank you for making this sacrifice,"
2      I say to my husband as I run to Kim's market.
3                 Never mind what the sacrifice is.
4    Sacrifices between husbands and wives are private,
5         and fill a person with simple, healing water.
6         Kim's buzzes with Sunday night customers
7                      as into the plastic basket go
8               watercress, asparagus, garlic, pecans
9  when a girl throws herself through the plastic door flaps
10    tears streaming down her face while her boyfriend
11       catapults past the troughs of oranges screaming,
12                         Water! Water!
13          And Mr. Kim peers down his quizzical nose
14               and Mrs. Kim stands in mountain pose
16       among the lemons, mangoes, papayas, and limes
17              of the country of her family's origins
18         plunging among the plums and dying there
19          the color of a plum beneath her dark hair
20                   for the girl is turning purple.
21  From the back of the store by the water the boyfriend
22          shouts that she's swallowed a lollipop head.
24     and young Mr. Kim by the register is asking her,
26                     "Should I call 91l?"
27Big sound should boom from her, but only a bubble
28     squeaks at her lips. "Call 911! " I speak for her
29             raising my woollen arm, aiming for her
30    shoulder blades where I whack, whack her again,
31    and no lollipop pops out. But sound bellows out!
32         Like idiots everywhere, her boyfriend shouts
33    Calm down, Calm down, forcing water into her throat,
34   which must help dissolve the candy my backslap dislodged.
35"Where's that Choking Victims poster you're supposed to hang?"
36            the boyfriend demands of young Mr. Kim.
37                  ."I'll cancel 911,." he says.
38     "Where is that lady?" the sobbing girl is asking.
39    Right here, I say, I am right here behind you.
40               I am putting endive in my basket.
41                 As she grabs me in a bear hug,
42                    her face has a human color
43           and it is a hard face, strong and horsey.
44                   "Oh Mommy!" she shouts.
45    As my sister was dying she called me Mommy.
46                   I stand in a mountain pose,
47    and she smiles up from a pile of plastic baskets.
50          (I'm afraid she might hear those l's as m's.)
51                    "Thank you for saving my life!"
52   Now don't eat any more lollipops, I say mommily,
53           closing the cosmic circle begun at breakfast
54    when my husband made the promise I won't reveal.
55              Grown human beings making sacrifices
56                return to the universe a favor of love.

Notes

15] overdose: of recreational drugs, such as heroin. Back to Line
23] the color of an eggplant: very dark purple. Back to Line
25] 911: a standard emergency services telephone number. Back to Line
48] Marisol: a Spanish name, combining "Maria" and "sun." Back to Line
49] Molly: a nickname for "Maria." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
2002
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004
Special Copyright: 

Copyright 2002 Molly Peacock: Cornucopia W. W. Norton. Permission to reproduce must be obtained from the publisher.