So what of this empty street, new blank fridge,
old pictures waiting to be hung?
Here is the same before: bluejays, steeple clouds, darkening
over shuddered houses and rusty cars in yards.
Each night, crickets know the value of a repetitive task;
cicadas send clicks to the lemon-rind edge of the moon.
Not one but two tire swings hang from the shattered maple
in the neighbor’s yard, part of spinning we never give up.
Since it hurts not to, being-with-you must be compulsive,
a respite from a heavy sigh that can’t be lifted.
After that realization, it’s always the same way home, past this little fear,
a loose cat in the alley—the progress of one canvas sky to another:
the firefly is a worthwhile cliché, the way wings lift before body,
or the earthworm, with its two sexes and five impossible hearts.
It was a quiet question for my first grade teacher to push her nail into my
finger to help out a splinter.
I pulled away. It was a classroom.
She probably knew my trust was shaken: saw me looking down afterward.
At home that night, I felt famous by the gas stove,
my mother roasting the end of a needle on blue flame.
She took my hand and worked the something out while I pretended it hurt,
made the needle a knife and her scratching sandpaper.
I did this because I wanted more somethings to work out in the kitchen—
the dog at our feet, birds asleep in the yard, the dishes listening
to my cry and her calming whisper.