There is childhood. Training wheels
you weren’t allowed to remove; an armful
of pears left to rot in a bucket; the rusted
edge of a paring knife hidden away when
it was seen too close to the blue of a vein.
A soft hum in your ear, the tenacious
whirring of tires on asphalt — too,
a blurred portrait of father and son,
red-faced and mute, in the front yard
early one morning, hands crumpled
about the cuff of a shirt, fists white-
knuckled, as when they’d yank kittens
from the old well. Too many, anyhow.
If there were too many kittens, were there
too many children? And the shadow
that followed a brother’s body down
the graveled length of that driveway —
there is still nothing at the end of it.
Nothing but the road, which everyone
travels. The county resurfaces it, but
all the old potholes are marked,
the cracked-lip edge of the shoulder
expected. Don’t put us down, they tell me.
As though a page could render them
permanent, could fix them in one moment
the way a camera restrains its subject — bodies
frozen, faces contorted around suggestion.
Traffic faint in the backdrop.