Slated for Demolition
Enter, says the rental house. It was your toys
cluttering the yard, yours and your sister’s yellow room.
You saw the knotty paneled wall when it bloomed
owls and eyeballs. It’s all been whitewashed.
Don’t stay. There’s a mattress on the floor, crushed cans,
the open arms of a greasy jacket. Nobody,
not even you, speaks here now. In the bath, it’s the same
pink mosaic tile. Stare a while, the grid rises up.
In the bedroom where your parents slept, the hardwood’s
scorched, there’s a view through to the sky—
this is what happens. At the bay window, the demo permit hangs
where sheer curtains used to blow their ghosts.
We lived there with a rough stair. We did not require finish work. My signature scent was your hot attic, where I hung my dresses on a wire.
In your rafters, wood became would, my family mistaking you for hope, the future setting out from rolled plans, the unfinished house of you.
I owe you. You kept my mind humming in sleepless hours. In the morning I could control neither the content nor the clocks.
Years and years may elapse. But with you, conversations are blooming sunflowers as tall as people, nodding their heads—agreement all around, a little golden finch.
A chandelier, centered without a table—I grew, I moved, taking it with me, packing it myself. Wrapped in a box, its brass was shining, its spider legs an idol.
An old car in the woods—I saw springs pushing through the bench-seat like roots. The steering wheel, woven with needles. Rust accentuating the lingering paint, its blue sky, its pure pool.
I’m sorry. I’m saying goodbye from the swing on my new porch. I’m holding to the chains.
You are wish, but not the coins in the water, not coins in the air. You are in the pocket, where it starts. You are wish, but not the thin candles lit. You are in the mouth, with the held breath—where what we don’t have is forming.
My Father’s Family Arrives
At 22, I should understand why they’ve come
rattling the cups in our kitchen.
In his room, made strange
by the oxygen tank, where his open eyes
are not quite his, in a whisper
they ask if he can hear. He can’t talk, I say,
but he can hear. My father, always
more sociable than he realized.
Now I am his voice. I do not see
the tumor is the threat, beyond any
snickering question they might ask—
which is the critical danger he trained me for,
as apparent as a spot on a brain scan. I am ready.
But our visitors are kind, share a memory
of his mother’s cake, nodding at him
when they speak. He loves
you too, I say with my calm certainty.