It sleeps next to you, rises
when you rise. Presses close
in the kitchen, the cemetery,
the subway. It matches
its gait perfectly to your own.
In its soft mouth it carries
whatever you need. Open your hand
and it’s yours: how to remember
that everything ends while still practicing times tables
and keeping the baseboards dust-free.
How to bathe a dog.
A rigid-with-rage toddler.
How to say child, we’ve done it, we’ve wrecked the earth
already, before you even arrived, and
how to say look at that heron, look, there he goes,
you can hear his wings, how amazing is that!
Open your hand and it’s yours:
how to remove a splinter.
A stray hair.
How to apply winged eyeliner.
How to select a ripe cantaloupe.
How to teach your mind every afternoon
when you hear screams from the school behind your house
to think playground, tag.
How to sharpen a pencil evenly.
Fold a t-shirt.
Press a four-leaf clover.
How to sit at night on a child’s bedroom floor on request,
flickering with how everything ends.
How not to let the dark room be lit by your flickering.
How to wait, and wait, and then, when the child is asleep,
how to slip out quietly, the beast beside you, into
the living room that blazes with everything,
absolutely everything you’ve ever learned.about the author