The Good We Can Sense

Middle school hung a steel box from the bottom of my sister's chin,
so that she'd feel rejection twist and drift from her bones
every time that motherfucker swings.

The chain is dotted with the fingerprint fog stain
of the men that take these links
and run like dogs the women shrouded in Myst
to the waters where he makes them drink.

it is for this, that i do not know whether killing is in me.

I wake nightly to my mother's march in the hallway,
with a night gown and knowing eyes she carries handfuls of wished friends,
drives which seek the moon through graveled country and
kisses that have never known malice

she piles one on top the other examples of a world that speaks to us in prose,
that give us existence same as a St Paul snow
and Oregon fields where these lights can't touch us, they can't touch us.

her step creaks under the weight of her good gifts,
she brings you not the nights that jade your sleep
but beds of kentucky grass
fires that burn the day blue
and a banjo that sends you swimming,
corner spots with jazz and the boom of poets lifting cities to their feet
"these can be your shoulders," she whispers

sweet sister, sense the good

here she holds legacies of our kind
the death ditches we crawled from and those northern lakes where we first find love
you are a place and a history
a people and a cause
and this, to you, our mother carries nightly.

room near the elbow for black jack with a young grandma and
trips home to see mom
you can be sure she fills these spaces well.

Outside her youngest's room, she crushes it all to a dust, dances to the bed and
blows that kiss o'r my sister's skin
hoping it all lands safely.

she crawls knees and palms to the wall
takes, lastly, from her arms the polished black stone of Lake Superior's shores
and mutters the graces of knowing something immense.

then she goes to work on that first bolt.
careful not to tear the skin,
gods fear her when she's like this and
she pulls with a power they don't.

out the box, she lifts what contents she can,
keeps her cries quiet as she reads them,
"we are progress" she says,
this night and the next.


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