Pretty girl. The weather has knocked her down again and given her to the lake to wear as a skin. Why am I always being the weather? There were days in the winter when her smile was so lovely I felt the breathing of my own goodness, though it remained fetal and separate. I was a scavenger who survives with a
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America Talks to Me Like a Mother
Don’t worry. One kills in dreams
but wakes having not killed.
Having not killed is part of waking. Some mornings, though,
you lay there pinned under layers of light, fear,
and woolen blankets.
You know what’s right and what’s wrong,
what you don’t know is what happened
and if you were actually there.
That’s why dreams of digging a deep hole with a stolen shovel
are so confusing. That’s why you expect to jerk awake
when you stand in a pile of dry brush
holding a lit match in your hand.
The best thing to do, always,
is get up and walk down the stairs.
Wait awhile in the kitchen, it doesn’t matter whose kitchen,
and let the house absorb the blame.
That’s what a house is for.
You aren’t screaming,
because you’re always wrong,
even while you sit on the ground before daybreak waiting
for enough light to gather sticks.
You don’t know yet what a stick is.
You can’t be expected to remember anything
once you’ve seen the sun rise.
All day long, you walk back and forth through the field,
standing guard over what didn’t happen
to keep it from mixing with what did.
You didn’t shoot the gun, you just listened well
when people talked about how to do it.
You didn’t walk unscathed through the fire,
you walked unscathed over it.
You happened to find a narrow bridge.
You wouldn’t purposely hurt anyone,
but keep describing all the ways that you would.
List all the things that never happened,
and see if you can suck clean the edges of what did.