We watched the last embers in the firepit. Without a word, without
consideration of the stars before the sky brightened & formed its own
opinion on the matter. Happiness like a fish on the gutting table, the
sledgehammer swung at the knee, the peanut shells swept each
morning from the steps. After years on the move, little more than the
whitewalls—the horse we rode in on—scraping the curb. Our worry
hung like a plastic lizard nailed to the tree. Startling, as much as the
pills counted twice, grains of rice & tomorrow staring less than directly
back, the closing summer more urgent in our shoulders. If we cannot
again be young, we might as well be skinny, less visible picking through
the produce, having forgotten both money & whatever was on the list.



The birthday candles borrowed. A spark in the tinder of either
yesterday or tomorrow. Sunlight like a shiver through the curtains &
spilling across the room. I'd wanted to say that my head doubled over
when it struck that piano bench, that it was the mind folding twice,
ageless, before I staunched its question in both hands. The stain of
fireworks, their little explosions out on the street & the neighbor who
knocks at each house asking for something to drink. It can be anything,
she says. The birthday candles rinsed, returned & we suffer such
passing by the same degree, steadfast & true should we climb together
like the trees, the kind found in photographs or even a painting.



Endless lists unfolding, elbowing out & up from the tattered dark.
What I've said & what I've said to whom, the moon erased by degrees
into the daytime sky. What of the bed & its foot, the floorboards &
good morning, this catch in the breath & how are you feeling? Too
many pills, too much medicine & this dinner minus you, raising our
glasses anyway for your birthday. Leaf shadow, letters & hearts from
the kids to be burned with your body. A favor asked & like the white
candle in a flower vase. Babble & blubber as though in a child's crib,
conversations losing their specific phrasing, midsentence into an empty
page & asking at last for the final flight home. Two velvet bags & the
locks of your hair. Our dog blazing ahead of you through the woods.