This morning, the lovers—
who last night were slurring and stumbling
and when I looked out, each gripping
the other’s taut throat in a clench of callous
and nail—sit on their front steps. The woman
smokes an idle cigarette. The man lounges
two steps down from her and leans his head
into her lap. Beer cans and husks of blue crab
from their cookout scuttle by in languid breeze.
The woman flicks the stub of her cigarette
into the street and kisses her man on his forehead.
In the kitchen behind me, Naomi
turns on the coffee grinder. I look back at her
but don’t bother to complain about the racket
this time. I’m more interested in the lovers.
Or, I was—they’re boring me now.
I liked them better when the radio was pumping
from their open window, and they were clawing out,
under the streetlight, the terms of their love.
Drop fire from the sky but don’t name me
as reason. My sister is lost on the longest lit road
in the world. She wanders into shoe stores
the hour before close and chews the stock
back to rawhide. My father’s workshop tools
have broken into open rebellion—he worked
and worked them to the bone. Any second now
the circular saw will churn through the basement door
and into the kitchen, gnawing the floor to spit
and sawdust. Out West my cousin has soldered
the mirrored lenses of police-issue sunglasses
over his ocular cavities. All he sees is wrong.
Alert the Department of the Interior: our enemies
are inside the fence. Drop fire from the sky
but don’t expect it to purify their hate.
Or, if it does, it’ll burn me clean with the rest.
Here’s my hope for salvation: when the stranger
comes knocking, open my arms wide with the door
and give him whatever he takes.