Jennifer Greenberg

A Passive Aggressive Filibuster for Adulting

I could try those caffeine gums
that give you a buzz. I could make
a corporate decision. Glue antlers
on my head, to make a statement.
This isn’t a hipster confessional.
This is a wolf cry to a blank moon.
I might sprout whiskers from my face
at sundown, dream about war
in ancient times, when you had to be
strong to survive. I could
get a membership to the night life.
Paint my roses red in the dark. I could
get all the fixings for revenge,
ask my auntie for the recipe. I know
the only way to make it is to fake it, so
I keep my hands extended always.
You never know when
you’ll need to clean a spill.
Writing this in lipstick on my wall
will make it real. I know the placement
of mother-in-law tongues in the yard
to ward off an evil I’ve never met,
and I can make a man come
back without knowing what for.

Our House

In the new house we eat off a dead woman’s
china. The eggshell porcelain
makes our hands quiver;
we fear the fragile weight of bad luck.
In the sheetless bed we share a mug of water.
The backside of knees make a hollow
for other knees. We watch silent movies
in the dark, mimic the black-and-white faces
and flake insect wings off the light fixtures.

They say two births happen when a soul is born:
One of a child and one of a mother.
She asks why we come here.
The new house is  chalky and beaten
with hale. Its roof breathes out a sigh
every morning / sucks it back in at night.
We kill time gluing baseboards together,
run the garden hose all Summer.

I take time to take her in: savor the
cream-sweet scent of new skin, keep it
in my throat like the bee makes honey;
feel the collagen cheeks and celluloid
fluff of what will become a bicep, a heavy thigh;
her smile of deciduous teeth; the Roman lips someone will someday put their mouth to, the way I once told her father we are important to each other.

She asks why the moon
takes her mother to the porch each night, to
pray into a candle, breathe smoke like a
In the bathroom I jump at my own
reflection; peel back paint bubbling
on the western wall.
Journals of algae bloom in the rafters.

God knows we mean well.

For a Child Leaving

She leaves behind her breakfast.
I pick off the ants sniffing around,
pressing them down with the pads
of my fingers. Indigenous people
would thank the animal when they kill it.
Such good manners.
The child left without an apology.
I waited in the kitchen, listening to nothing,
hoping to be interrupted.
We whisked egg whites into their yellow
embryos and fried them over red onions the
child staring, perplexed, my eyes
watering over the skillet. I kissed her
goodbye like making a lipstick stain
on an envelope, reminding her to call
once in a while. So much goes to waste
without gratitude. But the child
takes only what she needs, leaves
the rest for the world. Leaves me
grasping for some kind of affirmation,
a mother learning how to love
like a child: without permission.

Jennifer Greenberg is a Florida native working on her BA at the University of Central Florida. Her work has appeared in Sonder Midwest and Chomp.

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