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Babysitters by Sara Peters

1996 Sara Peters


by Sara Peters

Your mother was as nubile as a dressmaker’s dummy;
your father polished his glasses and rubbed his crop.
When the Babysitter arrived, with her turquoise belt
and raw mouth, your father had never seen
such a fine wrist, such a way with an onion!
She pinned a plastic hummingbird
behind one pink ear; she sang “Fever”
over boiling eggs.
You, at nine,
sculpted your curls with toothpaste. You hated
your friends: their Lego sets and down jackets.
But this Babysitter. She’d start with Goldilocks, then
veer. Papa Bear said Someone has been eating my porridge!
And Goldilocks said My life is broken, my heart is over.
Snap my neck like a broccoli stalk.

Hear the Babysitter: brisk and newsy to the milkman.
You catch words like cream, coffee, cows; phrases like
my sister in Florida, 8 pounds 10 ounces,
a head of black down!
But when she thinks herself
alone, you hear back seat of the car, then
with a trench knife, in the orchard. Secrets thud
like June bugs against screens,
and all you have to do is let them in.

Sara Peters‘ visionary debut collection is a book about obsessions — about desire, violence, sex, beauty, and cruelty, about how they lace through our days, leaving us changed. In these startling poems of mystery and terror, we meet remarkable characters enduring unspeakable things, confronting the raw reality of existence through fearless candor. With profound clarity, elegance, and humour, Sara Peters reminds us of the harrowing and beautiful complexity of life itself. 1996 marks the undeniable arrival of an essential and brave new voice.

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