Barbara DeCesare

Your Favorite Number

I hope you have a damn good reason
because when you let a number like that in,
it’ll turn on you so fast.
36: spine on spine, a grudge,
a house divided, half-sisters,
or the twins,

but one lives head tucked
inside the other, her legs
dangling out above the other’s hip.

Why do you want that trouble?

Or maybe thirty-six just rhymes with
dirty sex
and that’s enough to give it rank
among the infinite runners-up.
But I will tell you about my treasure,
8: not the usual infinity handstand
you probably hear from other girls
who grab the number because
their tiny hands can get around its waist.
I love 8, I mean love like you don’t know.
I love 8 like peacocks or revenge. I mean business.

This is the number that should be a letter,
serene, contained, indifferent, charming.
A plump mother, pasta, pastry.

When 36 betrays you,
and it will, my friend,
come to me and I will crack an 8 in half for you,

let you drink its sweet milk, use its ends for mittens,
or I’ll bend it as a butterfly bandage for you
to seal up the hole above your hip
where the worst of you broke off.

Barbara DeCesare is the author of two books of poems, Silent Type (Paper Kite Press, 2007), and Jigsaw Eyesore (Anti-Man Press, 1999), and the CD Adrift (Seventh Wave, 2006). She is currently in service to the United States as a Deputy Unit Manager for Disability Examiners in the Social Security Administration. Her dinnerware consists of commemorative presidential plates. She has a crush on the Constitution.