Crooked teeth, fueled by nervous energy; Mary knocks.
She is there, her mother’s name on the mailbox;
stepping on the concrete like it’s littered with glass.
We all know her. We shovel her walkway in winter,
I salt her sidewalk, get her mail, call the police
at ten pm for wellness checks when her cousin can’t
get her on the phone. I’m so embarrassed, she yells
from the doorstep in her flowery housecoat. Was your mother
a kite once? Paper glued to popsicle sticks, fitted
shoelace tail, Mary, did you make one when you were nine?
Did you lie in the middle of the yard on your back
in sunshine and stare down floaters? Were the clouds
shaped like sex organs or cotton candy? Were the worms
in your own eyes sliding away when you tried to pin them
with a stare? Was your body slight then, too? Did the kite ever catch
in the elm? Your father’s voice booming from the kitchen,
your mother’s wash drying on the line, would she have guessed
at her own bitter fear? Taste it on her lips like iodine? Did your father
feel his own heart giving out with cruelty? Or was that Christianity?
I stood in the living room and watched the fire trucks park
at the curb. I stood in the living room and watched
them wheel her out on a gurney, the same flowery housecoat
You now wear flapping between the straps. I stood in the living room
and watched you panic. I stood in the living room and watched
you come home later, alone. I stood in the living room and watched you sit
in the grass and glue a new kite. All that beautiful in the yard we share
with rabbits and squirrels. All that you come from.