You’re humming through the streets,
self-lit. I have to correct strangers
who touch your head without asking,
as if to bless you or to take a blessing from you.

When we leave the city, you become
a boy hunting locusts. Nature stuns you—
you load up your pockets and want to bring it
home with us, but Nature stays with nature, I say,
a refrain learned from another mother.

You cannot be unpuzzled by things,
but you marshal all your sweet bravado for me,
who tries but never beats you in a game of chess.
I witness the rook and Queen
moving inside your thinking, squaring
and hewing 
to pathways of wins, losses.

Childhood’s end is always menacing,
apparent places of stars mark its outer limits.
It heaves up in you when you lose,
when you rage, 
when you’re afraid.

Glowering out of a fever dream, your eyes shine
as you confess in the dark I was the monster.

You show me a hornet’s nest on a bed of cotton,
hold it up as an offering. I wonder with you
at what you hold—
            summer rivers that show bracken corners,
            eye agate marbles,
            daggerwings of our days in the city
            built of strangers,
                         in a country built of sky.

When I pull you close,
what will flee trembles in you.

Copyright © 2022 by KC Trommer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.