Birds pulse above the blood-black line of horizon.
I walk out through the sliding glass door into the backyard,
hoarfrost on the fallen leaves like thrush on a baby’s tongue.
Over the chain-link fence, three bald eagles fight for their kill
on the train tracks. My brother writes a postcard
from someplace near Bagram, fog veiling and unveiling
the Hindu Kush. In a dream he lifts his arm to cover his eyes
and I kiss the top-stitch scars along his mended wound.
In the middle of the night, a child screams awake.
But it’s only the engine of the refrigerator, faintly.
The neighbor is a mystery, a stranger to us. He lives alone,
blinds shut at all times. I suspect what we all suspect.
Sometimes I stand in the dark of my window, facing the dark of his.
From Tongue Screw (Spark Wheel Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Heather Derr-Smith. Used with permission of the author.