Beginning and End
Beginning and End
When Papaw Kidd died, he left
two dogs behind. They sat
on his porch, staring at trees,
waiting for family to come
and clean out his closet stuffed
with overalls and white shirts
and dirty boots. One German
Shepherd, one Cocker Spaniel,
both light brown and dusty
porcelain. Mommy fought
cousins to keep the dogs
for me, to hold, to guard.
My dad collects cherry seeds
stores them in his old Nestle
bottle, its inch of water
reddened with pulp and extra
saliva. He pitted cherries
with his tongue, brimmed his mouth
with dozens of seeds and spit.
They tumbled through his yellowed
teeth and splash and live and bleed.
I have scabs on my knees,
on my elbows, on my chin.
I fall, and catch myself
on the ground, not realizing
that it will be hard
to get up and walk away
unscathed. I carry my
scabs as badges, a map
of where I’ve been
and where I’ll go.
At The Circus
Baraboo, Wisconsin beams
red, yellow, lime green with promise.
Rain pours so hard it drowns
the circus, floods the streets, the tents,
the Rudolph noses and ghost-
white diamonded faces. Water
swallows the swinging trapeze,
the unnetted tightrope. Tigers
and elephants are gobbled
by Noah’s ancient waters.
Playing the ukulele
for the first time leaves
you with fingers numb
as a child’s blue
ones after playing
in the blizzard, as
Mom’s after scraping
ice from the windshield,
as bones grown raw.
I never choke
her as we make
love. She reaches
up to me, grabs
my tongue, and pulls
out my spine.
The Frog and Cricket Cabaret Night
Deep hums emulate from beneath
the fringe of the shrubs as the sky
fades to orange to pink, purple,
black. Drizzle mingles with splashes
from rippled puddles and pools, steams
to a boil. Kids in raincoats
and large red boots stomp in the dark,
across gravel, through water,
under leaves. Jars filled with lightning
bugs light their way, makeshift flashlights.
In their other hand, empty
jars, ready to catch the hums.
Giggles become shushed as creatures
leap back into the night, followed
by excited feet. They hide
beneath the corn stalks and fallen
tomatoes. The dirt becomes trampled
mud, ripe for tomorrow night.
Apples ripen at the touch of hands, we
pretend, like kid’s playing in the snow, real,
like flowing creeks sparkling with sun, cool.
We Love Because He First Loved Us
When a father’s hand cradles a daughter,
envelops her in worn and wrinkled skin,
love pours down from Heaven and lands, sprinkling
open eyes with dew and streams of rich
velvet. Chocolate tufts mingle with half-formed curls,
enwrapping her fresh face with wisps of hope,
belonging. Steam rises, the weighted touch
echoes her aching heartbeat as heavy
cords spill from her wet chest. She endures being
anointed with blood, oxygen, and stomach
untethered. The womb cries, yearning the full
shape of life to come back home, to dance,
elated within a pocket of unsevered skin.
Hope fades as nurses, doctors rush, sensing
emergency and quickened pulse. Her father
finds a place to peer through the window,
insisting to be near as her mother
rolls, contorts, and dreams of her daughter’s life
still unblossomed. Crisp golden laughter chimes
throughout empty hallways beaming pink,
light, and flowery. She stands tall, his gruff hands
overlapping hers, tracing the stomach
vividly protruding. Curled hair glows
excitedly within her, mimicking.
Daughter becomes mother, empty and full wombs
united as one. Dew forms from half-hearts,
steam and love rise the way it once poured down.