Everything Needs Fixing

in your thirties everything needs fixing. i bought a toolbox
for this. filled it with equipment my father once owned
to keep our home from crumbling. i purchased tools with
names & functions unknown to me. how they sat there
on their shelf in plastic packaging with price tags screaming:
hey lady, you need this!  like one day i could give my home
& everything living inside it the gift of immortality, to be
a historical monument the neighbors would line up
to visit even after i’m gone & shout: damn that’s a nice house!
i own a drill now, with hundreds & hundreds of metal pieces
i probably won’t use or use in the wrong ways but what
i’m certain of, is still, the uncertainty of which tools repair
the aging dog, the wilting snake plant, the crow’s feet
under my eyes, the stiff knee or bad back.
& maybe this is how it is—how parts of our small universe
dissolve like sugar cubes in water—a calling to ask us
to slow our busy breathing so we can marvel
at its magic. because even the best box of nails are capable
of rust. because when i was a child i dropped
a cookie jar in the shape of noah’s ark,
a family heirloom that shattered to pieces.
the animals broke free, zebras ran under
the kitchen table, the fractured lion roared by
the front door & out of the tool cabinet
i snagged duck tape & ceramic glue. pieced each beast
back to their intended journey.  because that afternoon
when my father returned from work i confessed
& he sat the jar on the counter only to fill it with
pastries. how the cracks of imperfection mended by
my hands laid jagged. chipped paint sliced across a rhino’s neck.
every wild animal lined up against the boat—
& a flood of sweet confections waiting inside.

Related Poems


A more interpretable ark than this
Blood is song your party
Apprenticeship of what one can’t have
Changed to money usury and the
World what was worth having
Ends up broken yesterday’s news
Like the blue of earth
Seen from outside atmosphere like
An egg we must begin
Anything can be charged with value
Changed to money Madonna of
A different blue
Still there is not
Just failure and despair in this world
Corruption of the flesh, forgotten sex
Still blesses our other names.

It Was the Animals

Today my brother brought over a piece of the ark
wrapped in a white plastic grocery bag.

He set the bag on my dining table, unknotted it,
peeled it away, revealing a foot-long fracture of wood.
He took a step back and gestured toward it
with his arms and open palms—

          It’s the ark, he said.
          You mean Noah’s ark? I asked.
          What other ark is there? he answered.

          Read the inscription, he told me.
          It tells what’s going to happen at the end.
          What end? I wanted to know.
          He laughed, What do you mean, ‘What end?’
          The end end.

Then he lifted it out. The plastic bag rattled.
His fingers were silkened by pipe blisters.
He held the jagged piece of wood so gently.
I had forgotten my brother could be gentle.

He set it on the table the way people on television
set things when they’re afraid those things might blow up
or go off—he set it right next to my empty coffee cup.

It was no ark—
it was the broken end of a picture frame
with a floral design carved into its surface.

He put his head in his hands—

          I shouldn’t show you this—
          God, why did I show her this?
          It’s ancient—O, God,
          this is so old.

          Fine, I gave in. Where did you get it?
          The girl, he said. O, the girl.
          What girl?
I asked.
          You’ll wish you never knew, he told me.

I watched him drag his wrecked fingers
over the chipped flower-work of the wood—

          You should read it. But, O, you can’t take it—
          no matter how many books you’ve read.

He was wrong. I could take the ark.
I could even take his marvelously fucked fingers.
The way they almost glittered.

It was the animals—the animals I could not take—

they came up the walkway into my house,
cracked the doorframe with their hooves and hips,
marched past me, into my kitchen, into my brother,

tails snaking across my feet before disappearing
like retracting vacuum cords into the hollows
of my brother’s clavicles, tusks scraping the walls,

reaching out for him—wildebeests, pigs,
the oryxes with their black matching horns,
javelinas, jaguars, pumas, raptors. The ocelots
with their mathematical faces. So many kinds of goat.
So many kinds of creature.

I wanted to follow them, to get to the bottom of it,
but my brother stopped me—

          This is serious, he said.
          You have to understand.
          It can save you.

So I sat down, with my brother ruined open like that,
and two by two the fantastical beasts
parading him. I sat, as the water fell against my ankles,
built itself up around me, filled my coffee cup
before floating it away from the table.

My brother—teeming with shadows—
a hull of bones, lit by tooth and tusk,
lifting his ark high in the air.

That This

Day is a type when visible
objects change then put


on form but the anti-type
That thing not shadowed


The way music is formed of
cloud and fire once actually


concrete now accidental as
half truth or as whole truth


Is light anything like this
stray pencil commonplace


copy as to one aberrant
onward-gliding mystery


A secular arietta variation
Grass angels perish in this


harmonic collision because
non-being cannot be 'this'


Not spirit not space finite
Not infinite to those fixed—


That this millstone as such
Quiet which side on which—


Is one mind put into another
in us unknown to ourselves
by going about among trees
and fields in moonlight or in
a garden to ease distance to
fetch home spiritual things


That a solitary person bears
witness to law in the ark to


an altar of snow and every
age or century for a day is