During the short sale I moved my desk toward Charlie’s so that every day, when we came back from work, he could say, It’s not even your house, to my face when I’d fret, I can’t lose another thing. Most of what I owned was slopped in return boxes from other states and when I visited home I complained about how I ever slept on that twin, how my father couldn’t even dust the Venetian blinds once in a while. It was the sixth or seventh house I’d lived in, and not even one I’d say I grew up in —I’d say the neighbors maybe found us eccentric with the trellis heavied by wind chimes and roots invading the porch’s foundation—so he was right to put the noise cancelling headphones I gave him back on while I agitated the sink. But it was our house for a while, the lawn tended, the gnomes in a collection, and before I used it as storage, I worried in it about changing the motion sensors and whether the leaky faucet was drowning the persimmon tree my late grandmother and late beagle loved. Charlie replied always with concern about my Googling old addresses again. No one hated sentimentality more than I, but when I flew back to consolidate my boxes, I didn’t know where to start. Crayons, a below-zero sleeping bag, so many albums of things I couldn’t place. My things and what were not my things. I circled trash bags around me in the garage and tuned the radio in tears. Just like that, it was for weeks. Inspecting frames, books, dishes—separating what was not broken from what was, dumping when I knew the difference.
The rung wide
receiver forgets why
he set his keys on the football field.
Whose are they? he asks—a ringing
in his ear—while clenching
the green. As if on the edge
of a pool, he tilts his head to drain
water out of his canal.
It was like that, all the time,
after. How many fingers?
he was asked, and not to tell
a lie—it would mean his career.
It would mean recognizing you
without your jacket when you
walked out of the room. It would mean
you could say, Stay here
with me, and in his eyes
could watch him come back.
I spiral the parking lot, singing,
It’s alright, I’m alright,
while I count the pole lights back
to my car. I practice red, table, lamp
with a neuropsychologist and now
I can tell you about how my brain
blew in the acceleration. I was in
a locked position—the details
unbearably clear in the replay and, still,
no one else heard me swallow
the impact. Bend at your hips
from your two-point stance and, there,
the muffler is a finger wagging
one one one inches from the ground.
The tire-less car rests on its crutch
of blocks, the windows a crunch
of glass. Are you feeling the rush now
as you look to me, your brain still
in your head—is it still in your head?
Can you point for me where
it happens in the connection, where
on the line the old equipment
resets itself and loops?
Is what you say the truth?