Bachelor Father

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Bachelor Father was selected as part of MSU Library Short Edition's call for submissions on the theme of "Home," in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibition "Where We Dwell." Elizabeth Kerlikowske is the author of 8 chapbooks and a larger book, "Art Speaks", with painter Mary Hatch. She is the past president of Kalamazoo's Friends of Poetry and currently the president of The Poetry Society of Michigan. She was awarded the Community Medal for the Arts in 2017.

Mermaids rode the wallpaper carousel, side-saddle on seahorses.
Mermen floated nearby with lascivious mustaches.
The children's bathroom: set for the last battle
of the underpants I automatically put on after a bath.
No. Take those off. Why?
You don't need underpants under your pajama pants.
I felt I did. My grandmother told me I did.
When you're married, you can't wear underpants to bed.
Why? Is that a law like stop signs, like not stealing? Mermaids watched,
on my side; they wore tails made of glistening armor
that never came off. I wouldn't argue. Ok. He put me to bed
without my underpants, smug that my training had begun.
When the door shut, I went to my dresser drawer for underpants.
Gone. But my grandmother had zipped an extra pair in my sleep-over dog.
He underestimated us. Such drama over a small piece of cloth,
like the mermaids' bras they weren't allowed to wear, he said,
when the lights went out.

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