Small House with a Blue Door
—for Milo & Oliver
Under a blue errancy, I haul
seed to the feeder. I haul
sun and rain
through this field into the next.
Nothing around me shall famish.
The ditch cradles a fat fox.
Underwater, a fish is skating through skeletal light—
Does your hair have bones a child asks.
Later I find the thumb-sized possum
babies or fetuses—don’t know don’t want
They’d been strewn—roadside—
from the cleaved-open-
body of their mother,
their miniature hands
The mother sank elsewhere, glittery with flies, fur heavy with summer.
The youngest dreams his fingernails are falling out—
browning as they slip.
I don’t want the fox to eat them.
Let’s gather the clippings
I tell him
we’ll glue them to your ceiling,
a village of crescent moons.
I will not look at the sky he cries….
He doesn’t want to see the stars or moons
or black clouds skimming the yard.
His mouth is a bud
when it’s closed. When it opens,
I am devoured.
At the threshold: a mouse-skull
clinging by a tendon to the wet velvet sack
of its body,
the size of a child’s hand,
the one I try not to grip
A relief to put you on one line.
I was made by two. My bifurcation a thing
of the mind.
Dear miraculous parentage your bodies floating
together. That I was ever floating between and in you.
That I was ever a child in an ill-fitting coat.
That I fell face-down and still sprung up.
That the doctors marveled at my ability
to Not Cry. They gave me sweets, gave me shiny smiles.
Mother. Father. You taught me
to carry a dead bird
through the cold—
a message between you
I thought was
the eldest exclaims, face gleaming with recognition,
pointing at the front page,
a newsprint smear on his hand
like a smoky bloom, his eyes widening
at the miracle: other children
walking as he did that morning
and in the news, right before us—
the photograph of those children
steered from school
in lopsided file, eyes tight-closed in the bright air, hands
resting obediently on their classmates’
shoulders, led away
through what was left
The whole sky
void of its former color. Flags
lowered, limp on their poles like the bibs
we throw away.
Once, the child-slayer
lived on top of a hill, shrouded by woods.
that white ongoingness
the calendar’s boxed days.
Two sons, two circus walkers,
gravity in their pockets.
Give me a generous murmuring field—
not the demolished face of the possum
I’ve pushed with a stick
into the cottonwoods.
My lullaby’s on trial for being soft,
my eyes for being hard.
The nest of mice now a palmful of bones.
I check the underbelly of the porch for rats
for littered scraps I check the feeder Does it need more seed?
The ghost rooster freezes
on its fence I check the creek for rising The sky for hawks
I check the black thing on the sunporch
who sobs in my son’s dream And the fly
whose oversized buzz
keeps him from eating I check
the starfish-stickered car seat for faulty belts I check
the moon’s thready eye that has witnessed too much
to regard my children
Fat robins flooding the field Check
Switchgrass by the electric fence
I check my face I check the crib the smell of the sheets
I checktheir breathing I watch for movement
The eldest carries a snag-
toothed saw, hammer, and wrench in a glowing vest
meant to keep him visible in night’s
raw socket of black.
He assures me
the tools I love are not deadly
Do you have a flower I can fix? he asks
I can take care of anything that jams
or cries. The swing set. This plug. That torn
screen. Your flattened mask. I have a tool
Who to Me You Will Become
Lucy’s in the garden. Milkweed’s
cloud-silk in her thin hands,
a book in her head….
The wind tilts
her sparse gold hair—and in that tenderness finally she becomes
what she can love: coppery-blue horse cantering
through rain-swung weeds. Tomaz,
not far behind, passes his wrists through azure, through iron, through the loose brain
of wet blooms, a mouse in his sock. He’s trampling
the roots that are his veins,
our veins, electric, animal, loosely contained.
Above these plots, the Moon is oracular and chalk.
Look away before she falls apart.
We’re in the garden too. Quiet on a bench. Not touching,
not ghosts though ghost’s our parlance. Ghost-dusk swallowing
decades between us below this trellis.
We lean toward the Invisible,
on our laps the grey husks of gloves, drydocked
mollusks, our bare hands no Memory of warmth.
Snarl of vines frames us, where we sit already Gone
before I can say who to me you have become, how I—
—have come closer. In your Listening, I can nearly
hear my voice. And Tom is here now, Tom now there too.
Tom in the garden in the rain, rain turning to early snow.
Tom by the Holy Basil. Tom and his night roof entwined with tomatoes.
Tom cupping a snail in his gruff hands to place in the dirt
where it feels home. Tom
while the heart’s being torn— Tom—
into little coppery blue pieces—tiny heart-pieces—in the sky
as though—after all, all along—it were
just a cloud.
Photo credit: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey