I want to write a poem that ends
with rain but I know better
and besides, I’ve done that already.
So I’ll just tell you of the house
my father tore down, how he broke
through plaster and floorboards,
hauling out tarnished copper
to sell for my mother’s insulin
and the diapers my spine required.
How one day he brought me along
to ferry buckets and a thermos
he ordered me not to taste.
Other men had already taken
their turns with hammers and saws
and the house looked
like it came from a war movie,
scattered with nails and gaps
leading all the way to the basement.
How seeing it made me think
not of endless hospital visits
or bodies left open
on the television screen,
but jars of playground crickets
with a punctured lid, like
we were helping the house breathe.
Long boards bridging end to end,
nothing left to hold onto.
Be careful, my father said,
in a voice that spoke of thirst.
And I did, inching along
until he caught me by the belt
and hauled me the rest of the way.
I was afraid, I looked down,
but I made it anyway. I thought
this would make me brave.
But I was only following orders.
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