Rubber Rain Boots
Brad Johnson

My daughter, like a specter of death, climbs
onto my bed to wish me a happy birthday.
Her face is like her mother’s. She’s lucky.
She’s also magic. She mutes alarm clocks
just by pointing at them. When she points
I hit the sleep button, not ready to commit
to the day. My daughter says when I was younger
she was my mother and my mother’s mother
when she was younger. She says her brother
was my father but she doesn’t have a brother.
I ask about her grandfather, who, she says,
is also her brother’s son. So I am fatherless
like my father on my birthday and each woman
in my life is my mother. Then my daughter
claims she’s like a snake: she’s changed
from her pajamas, like a snake that’s shed
its skin and sits between the pillows, thumb
in mouth, like Buddha in pink tutu and rubber rain boots.

In the backyard, the neighbor kids kill
each other with their plastic guns.