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

Incest Taboo continued

Jane says the same words over and over, a parrot
who wants her Prozac-cracker. Her therapist wears the wrong
colors--spring, though she's clearly an autumn. Explosive
dinosaur earrings brush her neck, hover
near her collar. Jane's distracted, humming
"The Wind Beneath My Wings," drawing a circle
around each question. "If we'd rented a beach
house, I think I'd remember!" Jane's father's voice swoops.
He reminds Jane that Fred was a good son, a boy scout. The Birds
is her least favorite movie. "What drive in?
We never went to any drive-ins," Jane's mother
insists. "I don't like mosquitoes. Just ask your father."

How can Jane break the incest taboo circling
her own marriage? Her husband looks less like her father
when he wears her lingerie. Jane doesn't hum
even when he's sick--she won't soothe him like a mommy.
Every girl is part Jane, hovering
around puberty, a sleazy corner. Adults drive
by quickly so they won't remember their imploding
hearts, nothing ever as intense again. Bird-
watching aggravates Jane. "It's wrong,"
her mother said, talking about girl watching, Fred's swooping
eyes scanning breasts and thighs, his mouth parroting
his friends' dirty talk. All winter he waited for the beach.

Baretta's parrot, also named Fred, drives
Jane to think about that moldy beach
house where Fred picked up her wet suit. His voice hovered
close to her ears. "Everything's related. Parrots
descend from dinosaurs. That's why mommy
is afraid of them," Fred said, swooping
Jane's bathing suit into the air, humming
a Donny and Marie love song. "You're so wrong!"
Jane said, about the parrots with dinosaur grandfathers.
Fred locked her door with a hook that looked like a bird's
beak and flapped his arms like sea gull wings, circling
a fish who was Jane. Her insides exploded

as he pushed her on the twin bed, his palm swooping
over her mouth. Now the radio explodes
I'm a bitch. I'm a lover. I'm a child. I'm a mother...
trying to shock her with its top ten song, circle
lyrics that make Jane wish she still had that parrot
green bathing suit that proved her bird-
bee-beeing brother walked in on her, then hovered.
That proved he came in again, after her father
left to take a midnight walk on the beach
all by himself. Jane didn't think her father was wrong
to take the car out alone and just drive--
to want out as her mother stayed in the shower, humming.

Incest Taboo continued

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