His house had the longest hallway you’ve ever seen,
& I couldn’t give a shit if I spent days trying, see:
the only hallway I can fathom is the one my grandfather
designed, poorly lit & just a portal to seven kids’ beds,
an attic, just a second away from being stolen from
my grandmother — the last great romantic! Say where,
someone say where an 84-year-old is to go when the
last string she’d tethered to a long-dead love now frays
& stretches to a thread thin — where, when a handful
of her children spent years supporting & the others now
make enough to save? Collect calls to make her “feel
better” about losing her one & only — my hero — so
someone hold me harder, tell me this isn’t how the
world really works; say the swilling souls rescue the
needy, the me of it all. Rediscovered loves of yesteryear,
like the letters they wrote to each other, promising
the home they made, blueprints I’ve held as artifacts
sacred for so many years. Roll up, cellophane, treasure
as concrete as tombs better archaeologists than those
kept close cracked, sifted. Sample each of hero’s hats:
architect, anthropologist, beard, brute, old-school
breadwinner, finding each less than enough to handle
heavy/hard head & soul-tethers to poets long since
forgotten. I heard stories, live by stories in which a girl
screaming poems in the streets is cause for keeping
her forever; why only believe the unbelievable, little
girl? Because it’s how I was raised. Art > reason, faith >
popular doubt, work > luck, and kicks, screams stand
so much stronger than the “lying under four quilts” card
I could always pull, the one all of my knowns play &
claim noble, “considering.” My grandmother doesn’t
turn in, even watching the splash of oil spills across
a TV she saw turn colored from a nest once warm &
full of more than her own — Will she now tend a plot
confined to 10 x 12 feet rather than the acres she
earned in distanced love, self-mutilating schizophrenic
children, skin cancer? The bottles across the wall remind
me to smile upon unrecognized bruises — the genetics
of tendency & oblivious faces turned to the sun.