--GOOD MORNING TO THE NIGHT
She tells me I don’t know, I don’t know,
I never knew.
She claims I only see spots and scotomas,
that I miss the truth
hiding in the fringes,
out of breath but beautiful.
Another time she says she is a cut-out,
not like that,
but living pages and improper pictures.
“Here,” she says,
running my hand across her spine,
“maybe you can read me a story.”
The nurse pokes her head in, mouths, Everything okay?
the same way she does every day.
When she’s gone,
I turn back to the woman on the bed
whose eyes are a blind man’s milk-blue.
I hit Record on the device,
say, “Tell me again how you met Dad,”
and she begins to laugh.
Land of Ten Thousand Lakes
The waves rewind that summer when we would float belly up, the sun a round door, your hair tousled like vines, the color of wild strawberries. You said they weren’t freckles, just store-bought bruises. We laughed about it. You called your father by his first name. He moved you to Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes. You should have been happy there. You should have tried harder to stay afloat, alive.
That summer the neighbor girl snuck out alone. I saw her from my bedroom window. No one else did. The police think I’m not telling. I’m not.
Mother May I
We played Mother May I even though you hated asking for permission. Dad said he didn’t play favorites, yet you’re the one he calls. I have a wife now. She counts my breaths. She measures their depth before stepping out of bed, tiptoeing off to use the phone.
Summer sings, song of seagulls cawing as they pluck French fries from plates. Children squeal. Poolside speakers blare, “I like to move it, move it.” In the reflection of your mirrored sunglass panels I see how frightened I am, a small, thin spider. When I look again, your answer is as clear as murder.
It was a two-tiered gun rack behind the pickup’s headrest. My uncle had eyes the color of dead grass. He smelled like chili. He drummed the steering wheel while sucking on a toothpick. The air was hot and wrong and I knew where we were going.
You are a window that I open to find another; somebody’s idea of a joke, a tease, a torture. I climb the chain-link and slice my legs on the razor wire, flop down on my solar plexus. Ollie Ollie, All in free! The wind is streaming, the motor’s revved. You couldn’t hear me if you wanted.
The table was essentially a tall stool, wobbly with legs that jutted out and made sitting close difficult. The waitress came at the wrong time, or maybe it was the right time. The glass struck me forehead-high, jagged pain like lightning, but at least your drink was empty.
She speaks in shrieks, in blades and volts. She says, I WANT YOU TO NEED ME. I WANT TO BE YOUR SECOND SKIN. THIS IS INSANE. CAN’T YOU JUST TAKE ME SOMEPLACE AND TREAT ME HOW YOU WANT TO TREAT ME, GOOD OR BAD, ANYWAY CONCEIVABLE THAT WILL PROVE TO YOU HOW WILLING I AM?
I step away from the glass. The detective says it’s two way, she can’t see me. I tell him she has me confused with someone else.
We stop writing about the moon. Inside your cupboard are plates of china with chinks in them. Your mother calls them poor man’s freckles. You say you have your own, but you keep the lights off, shades drawn, covers up. You tell me what’s important are the stars. “Look how they glitter,” you say, “as if they have their own secrets to keep.”