We lived one summer
without walls. No sheetrock,
just cherry brick from outside
and the slivers of light that
stretched between the cracks.
We could hear the fruit man’s
lucid voice through the skeleton
of our row home.
He called cantaloupe and
watermelon, grapes and apples
and then laughed a bit
as the clicking of hooves
passed beyond our unpainted fence.
His shade lingered on the screen door
like our skin stuck to the leather sofa.
Our palms sealed together
with sweat and the hunger for something
other than fruit.
I watched an oriole in the front yard,
perched on a piling by the water.
A bird this sleek should fly,
but instead it huddled in the cold air,
its feathers ruffled and messy.
The marsh winds blew
across the Chesapeake.
The breeze whistled through the pier,
wandered over the bulkhead,
coiled in the sand.
We bottled it later that year,
the day we dove for clams and got
so sunburned we blistered.
Katie tossed them into a bucket,
and I watched them as they opened,
extended their slick arms,
Solar energy reaches through
the crack in the windshield,
a web-like chasm where my face
and the glass met and departed.
It is conducted through the currents
of my subclavian and iliac,
spread throughout my limbs
as the bruise starts to widen
above my eye and someone pulls me
from the car because I’m too confused
to walk and I wonder how the verve
that’s rootless in my limbs .
could be convected from
We’d go to the circus
at the end of every summer when
the air started to cool and unravel.
The tents were always red, I think,
as big as mountains or maybe
I was just small at the time.
When you’re small there’s
not much that isn’t big.
Like how I could only recognize
you by the pants you wore.
The elephants were my favorite,
their feet mashing craters into the dirt.
You’d smile, raise me to your shoulders
so I could see over the crowd
and the elephants would trumpet,
follow each other in circles
and the horses danced and a man
walked a tightrope just over our heads.
There was fire and brimstone
followed by a nap on the way home,
so you’d carry me to my room,
semi-conscious and in love.