All of the children held in a blue sweater,
who is it knitting them together with tiny thumbs.
The tiny hoods they must wear as they blanket
the corn exploding in its refusal to warm,
the tiles of the sidewalk as uncorrected teeth
in a kettle.
The light switches painted
red with fingernail polish. The slats of wood
they’ve used to cover the windows.
Somewhere in a room, the well-dressed
are talking & naming a country after a girl.
Somewhere without a name the ice is falling
as it melts & all of the people in the streets
have never seen snow—its exhalation—
In Another Life the Stones
Garment bag that I am being stuffed with fur.
Trash bag that I cover myself with against rain.
Air that cannot get inside me, fur already inside me.
The lungs make sedated pets. See them resting,
the girls’ laps like tired kittens
or like scalps. See them hugging the fur
to their faces. The kitten I named
the sound of sausages sizzling in a pan.
How it streaks the house, the walls, the furniture
as it greases by. How it scalds my hands
even as I reach for it. It cannot hurt the girls,
faces blank and pale and night. Their breathing
is what makes the fur breathe. Their scent
is what wanders us into the yard next door,
the garage with no door and its barking dogs.
The location of night and the rattling of sticks
against the walls, scratching of paws
and the sizes we imagine for those dogs
behind stone walls. Girl fingers rubbing stone.
In another life the stones left by ploughs.
These stones that are bruises.
These stones are heads for dolls.
Because It Had Always Been a Quiet Town
The roof off, letting its bright red hair down as if a sudden fire, as if a nightgown erupting into flames. Nightgowns discarded all over town, noisily leaving puddles of bricks from the foundation. The young boys being seen in their pajamas. The tree until, in a shudder, a legion of green moths. And many tried to help the boy. There was the stout man who was convinced he’d spend all day out there with trashbags to keep things flowing. The tree was really part of his capillary system, full of blood and a bicycle pump, trying. There was the plain little girl whose family donut shop satisfied its sales at the base of the tree to keep him company. She’d bring her dolls and set up a tea party. She imagined that they’d get married. The apartment of the local beauty and her collection of exotic nightgowns grew long and tangled. The firemen didn’t have ladders long enough and they used the longer ladders to climb the one renowned for her kindness to firemen. And the boy ate his clothes, his hair, cutting it, then braiding it into various hats hideously long, and he’d break them off, his fingernails grew into utensils, eventually, and broken fingernails.