Muliercula: Homunculus As Daughter

by Adam Vines

—Pierre Bonnard’s Le Peignoir
She sleeps
in her skin,
chin tucked

into her chest
like a pigeon

on a power line,
hair brushed
and brushed

then pinned.
My daughter

says, “mermaid,”
the woman’s
chiffon flaring

with gold carp
scales, lily pads
floating above

her head like
empty thought

bubbles. Where
my daughter
sees a fish


tail, I plead
for rectrices,

a bit of down
beaked to the surface
and preened,

the signature
an ibis head.

When I say
the daisy petals

behind the bird-
woman prove

she is on land,
my daughter says,
“Silly Daddy,

those are ice
minnows

tickling her back
to wake her up
from a nap.”

And at once,
water and air

are no longer
distinct elements
and pathways,

and I truly
understand

why one must
concede at times
even if one is right.