"Parasite" by Irene M. Vallone

I’ve been staying with you long enough

that the least I could do is mow the lawn.

I follow the curve of the front street corner

and your striping advice in the back. 

You tell me it’s good to have

another man around. 


When I come out to you,

you tell me it’s a bad time

and go back to cleaning.

I scrub the counters hungry

and count my insect bites

as you wash the insides

of the windows, so we can see

what you own from outside.


That night, your daughter sings to me

while I shave my legs in the tub.

The strings around her bones

remind us which are owned

and which are borrowed.