"Incest Taboo" is from TWO AND TWO by Denise Duhamel, ©2005. Reprinted by kind permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Incest Taboo

It always freaked Jane out when her father
called her mother "Mommy," as in "Mommy,
let's pack up the car and go for a drive!"
Jane grew up to be afraid of birds.
She swerves now whenever a sparrow swoops
towards her windshield. She can't go to the beach
because of the sea gulls that dive and circle
like hornets or war planes. Even humming
birds creep her out, the way they just hover
quivering like they are about to explode.
Blue jays, robins, even doves have wronged
her, one way or the other. All lousy parrots.

Jane was changing her bathing suit at the beach
house her parents rented. It was a parrot
green one-piece with a yellow swoop
of daisies down the front. It was wrong
the way her brother Fred barged in--the bird
brain--without knocking, his voice exploding,
"Hurry up! The drive-in
starts in two minutes!" He hovered,
her suit rolled down around her hips. "Mommy
wants to leave now," he said, leering. The hum
of a car engine out front, their father
honking. Then Fred backed away. Jane's suit left wet circles

Artwork by Erin McGee Copyright 2006

Incest Taboo continued

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