still remember the toy xylophone when you were four and your world so
bright. Primary colors and tones
that clinked clear and hummed after.
Thatís the sound you remember.
Buzz of invisible insects, echoing red blue noise you would always love
because the strike of your small hammer moved molecules. Because you heard it late and after
everyone else stopped listening.
Doesnít time flatten everything?
The arches of your feet. The bread dough you dreamed would rise
and fill the whole house.
Enthusiasm. New mounds of
earth, old mountains, and the soft body of the doe you struck on the
highway—everyday sinking into the horizon. The music of you striking everything with your small
hammer. Weak kerplinks, quiet thuds
that echo. After.
day you will meet a man who was deaf as a child. He banged with the other children but never heard the
xylophone. When you play your own
stone xylophone, your every muffled thump will strike him as music. When you weep against the curve of his
shoulder and beat his chest in a crescendo of gentle fists, he will whisper maestro.
Breathe. Bow. Everything else, the air between beats, your electric
Somewhere a woman is drowning more children. In utero. We breathe first.
Some hearts fail to bloom.
Some lungs are only the stems of lungs. Bronchiole that wonít flower, a garden gated against sin.
This soaked morning I breathed dogwood and columbine. Cottonwood spits into the wind, snags
the dry ends of my hair. And I
think of all the ones who refuse my kind of survival. Exergonic bursts on an already blustery day.
Children are drowning their mothers. Holding their heads under for longer
stretches, a kind of training. You
welcomed me then. I breathed all
you offered. Even then it
burned. Now taste the excess. Taste the air before it was air.
I can refuse. Taste. I hold my breath sometimes. For the children I wear flowers in my