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

Incest Taboo continued

Fred liked to shoot things, especially birds
which were more challenging than cans. His guns hummed
with promises of taxidermy. Parrot-
sized birds he couldn't name were driven
out of trees and plopped dead in circles
onto the ground. Jane knew killing was wrong,
even birds, and she'd yell to her mother,
"Make him stop!" She waited for beach-
weather, then buried her son's fun, explosive
pangs of anger in her chest. "You're his father,
talk to him," she said as her husband swooped
his fork to his plate--Jane crying, silence hovering.

Jane finally felt happy, though she knew it was wrong.
At Fred's funeral, his girl-watching buddies hovered
near the casket, crying in huddles, circles

football players make before they swoop
and clobber the other team. Jane was learning to drive.
She'd missed driver's ed to stand with her father
near the casket. Jane's mother kept fainting, parroting,
"Thanks for coming," to the mourners whose grief exploded
like shaken soda bottles. Sometimes she still hears them hum
like she did that summer at the beach
when bottles popped right on 7-11 shelves. A bird-
like cashier. Glass shards. Her father yelling, "Look, mommy!

Look at that!" Jane's father and mother
still don't remember seeing Hitchcock's The Birds
or the swooping sea gulls. Even the beach house
is caught in a blurry circle of memory, humming
and hovering, ready to explode. It doesn't help
Jane gets details wrong--Baretta had a cockatoo, not a parrot.

Denise Duhamel's most recent poetry titles are Two and Two (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), Mille et un Sentiments (Firewheel, 2005), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001) and The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999). Duhamel has read her work on NPR and was a featured poet on the PBS special hosted by Bill Moyers, "Fooling with Words." Booklist has written of Duhamel's poems: "So overwhelming is her relish for life that embarrassment, or titillation when the subject is sexual, just doesn't stand a chance. Life-affirming without being treacly, Duhamel is a character who assures us the world is full of character." She teaches poetry at Florida International University in Miami.

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