More than the execution
of what we owe 
to whom and for how long,

more than attention 
swallowed and returned,

love might be the kindness 
that bathes the crust from life

like scalding milk 
and a wire brush
to thick and brutish hides.

From Filched (Dos Madres Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by James Tolan. Used with the permission of Holly Messitt.