Arms upturned, I think only of my own face—
lines set into my lips, my brow. My face and body a worry
stone. This is a religious experience in Kansas.
Maybe the spires of the castle pierce a sky
like the underside of a shell. Maybe.
Or maybe this is one more dream—look at me—
in which I have to look you in the face, father,
and remind you how long you've been dead.
My wife and I argue about how to explain adulthood
to our children. Much of every story is impossible
to explain. Facts are like divorce and illness—
unfair as the weep and itch of ivy rashed
on legs and arms like patchwork blankets.
When, after the daily pills, the steps
slide bright as notes clinging close in a chord, we forget—
forget and forget. No amnesia descends
smoother than this one.
A sky full of paper cuts hangs over morning.
Believe for an hour the ache won’t come back.
Wait like the lover home from the clinic.
Baby. Please, baby. Open the door.
Please open the door.
When my body was a shadowbox, chanting, you brought home flowers
and said, Isn’t this what you wanted? Flowers for no reason.
Even though you don’t deserve them? My body is chanting.
Imagine I am Sharon Olds. People pay
to read about my periods—63 days between this time,
wine-dark and clotted, old blood. Years ago
I woke tangled in a woman’s legs to bloody
sheets. We laughed and smoked a joint
after I scrubbed my legs in her bathroom.
Stayed. Over and over—water faced, quaking.
My children hear, learn the lesson
of how to not walk safely away.
You remember me silhouetted, hands
on my waist and a pink rising
as cows mill nearby. Maybe a dog
watches hay unfurl. Sweat and diesel,
cigarette smoke, wet dog and dung.
Who smokes anymore we both think.
You imagine us shopping for oats
at the mennonite store. There are babies
on my hip, on the floor, driving tractors.
Her cracked egg head poked out from between
my legs and you hated her. You had to watch
as they put me back together again.
Laura wrote in a poem somehow, I’ve come to believe
everything wants to live. I never explained to her how she’s wrong.