O the body’s much ballyhoo’d right to be born!
Aligning with her right to shine & die, a star!
They all know her name but not her age
A doctor our daughters shared, opined.
Her name, he said, was failure to—
(Thrived onscreen, you’ve seen her.)
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He glides in on his single wing, after the signs go up. After
the truck leaves with the bunkbeds, grill, broken hall mirror.
After Scout is dropped off at the shelter. After the last look,
on the dying lawn. In the backyard, where the empty pool
stands open; he pops an ollie over the cracked patterns of tile:
tidal waves in neat squares. He kneels, checking angle against
depth. He lifts off where the board once leapt and leapt: cannon-
balls, swans: endless summer. He hurtles downward, kickturning,
sparks grinding hard on gunnite. Round the bend: the kidney,
the heart. The stone path where once glowed tiki torches at
the kingdom’s ukelele gate. He rockets out of the dead lots each
day, past swingsets and shut-off sprinklers, his board struck up
from whirlwind. Nobody’s home to the ownerless: he turns
inside their names, never minds ghosts, nothing in his wake.
Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1945. Her poetry collections include Twin Cities (Penguin, 2011) and Sparrow (Random House, 2003), a National Book Award finalist.