It’s a pretext for saying something about my history—
like the bird bric-a-brac that was shattered
and glued together by my stepbrother who assumed
it had something to do with me. There were
many such items that were swallowed up by the
hole under our house, and some nights
when the car horns penetrate through
the symbols, I can hear the mud sucking
like a child with a lollipop and my stepbrother
creeping up behind me. He was a gatherer
of pieces, a decent person who returned
the spirit of the object but not the object itself.
Nothing was mine because I declared nothing.
I headed west over the border, not the border
of territories but the border of the possessor
where something as skintight as a childhood
can be stripped clean. The bones under the night table
that clacked when the floor adjusted its position
I left for others to clean up, never considering
that what was stationary for so long was discardable.
I returned on a cold winter morning, quilted
and wrapped up in nylon with a satchel
stuffed with coordinates. I sought out a tree,
a wall, the lineaments of an impulse. The
bald-headed figure I shadowed across the alley
left a trail of glass. I stepped over the reflections,
the glare passing me like a breeze, as if I were
impervious to light. It led to a garage where
I remember one morning we investigated
the bird organs of a girl.
“This is my life,” I say. I’ve waited for
the squirrels to intercede, but they were not
interested. The gray-haired balloons
that even my stepbrother found uncollectible
have a way of responding but not bursting.
They float obstinately through my dreams
and become trite figures I have to ignore.
The stacks of possessions he collected
I never considered until I stood among them.
Somewhere there were fragments, like moon stones,
I shared spaces with. I have to negotiate
an intimacy with them because they reflect
nothing. The regimens of my earlier days when
the world was finger-counted and I could identify
the lilac bush in my backyard as a demarcation
not to be violated might not have existed. Now,
there is only this foreign country where
the residents speak a language I can understand.