My parents kissing in a kitchen.
In her loop-eyed dress my mother—
enormous in her belly, I loom.
In a commune in Fort Greene
she typed and typed her dissertation.
Upstairs a woman practiced primal screams,
a wild-haired painter mourned his dying wife.
My parents had already made my life
near the mass grave
of hundreds of Revolutionary soldiers,
a cockeyed brownstone full of junkies,
somebody who stripped my parents’ jalopy
down to wires and bones.
Soon they sold all they had
and drove to Madison to have me.
Had five people over for pie.
It was done then: They were married.
Weeks later in their bedroom I was born.
In piles my mother’s writing
watched us from unquiet bricks and boards.
We unstave the winter’s tangle.
Sad tomatoes, sullen sky.
We unplay the summer’s blight.
Rotted on the vine, black fruit
swings free of strings that bound it.
In the compost, ghost melon; in the fields
grotesque extruded peppers.
We prod half-thawed mucky things.
In the sky, starlings eddying.
Tomorrow, snow again, old silence.
Today, the creaking icy puller.
Last night I woke
to wild unfrozen prattle.
Rain on the roof—a foreign liquid tongue.