Once you were a god I could feel
enter the house from my room.
Once I knew to shut the door
when you returned. Once my muscles
tensed in anticipation of the moment
you came and rained your anger
down; my sister and I cringed.
We’d hear the car pull in, snap
the television off
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Ode to Love
Place its toothpicked pit in water, watch the grist
of its insides grow. Witness its populous bloom,
honeycombed with rough. Its cobblestones grip
the heart in its mitt, a closed fist thickened
and gritty as silt. The swamp of the plumb beat
adamant as weeds. The dish of which is salted
by complexities or cries. It is a house in which
we cannot live, the quiver on the arrow
we cannot launch. It grows late over Nevada
as we watch. Strikes its gullies: we grow burnt
as a moth. Mimics a sleep of archives and
the small lies all forget. Mimics all laughter
broken by the time it leaves the mouth.
With its moving parts, its chimes, its gleam,
it muddies our archways, lying low, gives off
noise and steam; its mechanics clear the fence.
It must be wooed. Must be quieted. Hush. It must
be soothed. Has a snag. Has a bleed. A drape.
Flaps awkwardly, at its edges, a heron. At
its center, a wide bottom perfect with fish.
Jennifer Militello is the author of A Camouflage of Specimens (Tupelo Press, 2016), Body Thesaurus (Tupelo Press, 2013), and Flinch of Song (Tupelo Press, 2009), winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award.