At night we rolled up the lawn around the house
plucking out all the vowels, saying
each one aloud as we’d been taught
to do as children.
At first it was a game
we perfected. We held the fruits
in our palms,
a cluster of Es, the As of apple.
We thought if we did this right
long enough to see it through.
In the morning we rolled the lawn back out
stepping onto it, convincing ourselves
it was new again, that we’d done
our good deed. We scattered
the vowels back out over everything
to have something to do
the next night.
We hid the cancers
under the soles of our shoes. We formed
ourselves into shapes.
There was nothing else we could do. The trees
continued to bloom in the spring.
The rains came then didn’t. There was both
time and non-time though in either case
it seemed to pass.
Days became chocolate then
honey then vinegar. Flowers
planted when we first arrived
took hold and pushed
through like a sunrise. The moon
fell on some nights like a gold sequin or a coin
that we picked up off the ground
and stuffed into a black velvet purse.
Had we opened it,
it might have contained all
the hidden things. So we sacrificed
the moon and stood
admiring the hole it left.
We always wanted a boat, though
neither one of us could sail or
swim or even liked the water.
It was an adolescent memory to which
we held, reeling in
what little we’d caught.
Some days we stood
at the reservoir near town
only snapping turtles with U-boat
mouths on gray hulls
that sunned themselves
on the shelf of what was once
a corn field, their props tangled
with silks and husks.
We were old when we realized
we were orphans, the modes of
transportation taking on
every conceivable approach,
the destination the same.
We wandered about the house looking
for a parent. We looked under
the beds, in the closets, inside
the bathtubs. We stepped
onto the back porch
and called out the names
until one by one we ran
out of them.
For days we ambled about
not knowing what
to do next or who would feed us.
We pulled out the old
relics and tried them on for size,
until we settled on
a simple dinner at the kitchen table
wanting at that moment not
to be adopted by anything
not even each other
In a dream, you were eating.
When you slept,
you chewed. This is what
you could not swallow. All
that was spread before us
and by whom. From an upstairs window
across fields that were corn
on top, beans beneath—each year
flip-flopped. The horses
accepted this, having been thrown in
with the starlings. A neighbor
near the tree row sent smoke
signals. As you vacuumed
you sucked the words
from the air. We both thought
we had been there forever,
sometimes, only me.
A lady swung her spikes through
the air, wildly, listeners
rapt. A mother fed her child residue.
All progressed nicely though too long
the gray skies dipped
into our luggage-sized bags
behind the closed doors of clacking
became songs in a key
beneath pink beneath asphalt. A conversation
ended. We packed up. A man’s face
fell into his day’s soup. A deal
erupted into crusts
over the height of the first letter
of every sentence. Every line
of every thing
into the aisle.
It was in the parking lot. When
you opened the door, it entered,
befriending you. Me too,
me too. It was pale,
smelled like bananas
or muffins, but less lumpy. (We couldn’t tell
if it was us
or just us.) It’s time,
people whispered behind our backs.
the research, closed the book like
a heavy Bible when it drops.
We started thinking the thought
about not thinking,
about giving in
and how it hangs
like after-sex, a detente,
as if settling in or giving up fear
for the first time. We waited
beneath wisteria, bombing it.
It became true just by saying it
like a wing-thing
in the green air. It knew
that everything, including us,
We listened to the waves
as if by standing near
we could create space. Yet,
nowhere was space
at more of a premium. A glacier
fell too soon and we
again, “Look at the splash,
and tell us
it isn’t so.” We fussed
with the insides
of our pockets.
An infrared picture
of the sun reveals topography
similar to the curve
of a woman’s breast on fire. We were
a boat. We were ever
toward what we’d never seen.
We knew it
was the best of the best, gone.
to love a thing
that seemed like—or was better than—
a real thing, a thing
remembered from old-fashioned
encyclopedias that came
in a set of twenty-two volumes
purchased from a man
who went door to door
convincing parents that every last thing
had been captured.