First open the windows and empty the garbage.
Next start the laundry, lights and darks.
Strip the bed, wash sheets, pillowcases,
mattress and quilt covers, mats and towels.
These things happen. There’s nothing
beautiful about it. She gave up her breasts
two years ago, but the cancer returned, pushing
through the sutures, the larval wasp consuming
Tucked beneath my mother’s shirts
and camisoles, a paper bag
of prayer cards, I find
A decade after we burned through the mysteries
and you taught me cartography’s other dark
arts, I dreamed of you coming for a garden tea,
then held buoyant in the Gulf, your hair and muslin gown
From 1850 to 1890 forty-one of fifty-six infants born on St. Kilda
in the Hebrides died of tetanus caused by the custom of anointing the umbilical stump with oil stored in the dried stomach of a goose.
Belongings: The short-sleeved blouse,
its paisley rayon desperate
to breathe light in your form;
the comb that hungers
for the pull of your hair;
the wristwatch, clicking in stir,
The deer stepped out in front of my car
so politely, as if to say is this a good time?
And it happened that it was,
perfectly timed between cars and patches of ice.
I braked. She stepped gracefully across
To understand the heart
you’ve got to memorize arteries, vessels,
and which goes where, which is red
and which is blue, what’s likely to pop open–
The Pacific Ocean, to a child of three,
sounds like a push-broom in his mother’s kitchen.
Life took us elsewhere: like other boys, I learned