His tales of how it used to be
are withering on the tongue.
People were always welcome
in each other’s homes.
They shared the water and the fields.
And then the soldiers came.
Or was it the thought or the plague?
How good it was, how bad it was,
are fogged up in his brain.
His wife feeds him from a spoon.
Once, people were always
welcome in each other’s mouths.
But then the spoon came.
Or was it the drought or the plague?
WAITING FOR A DAUGHTER’S MRI
Instead of worrying, weeping,
I’m expected to read a month-old Sports Illustrated,
where guys born in the ghetto
make it all the way
to the championship game
and the worst that can happen
is to lose with dignity or a big new contract.
But Rachel’s in the MRI pod.
Close your eyes and imagine
all your favorite princesses, we told her.
Or a lake with gold fish swimming
just below the surface.
An elephant. A beach ball.
Anything but face to face
with the inside contours of a metal cylinder.
I forgot to suggest
a gymnast recovering from a broken leg,
her eyes still set on the Olympics.
On the other side of the waiting room wall,
the chamber is spinning,
the bed she rests on
is moving in and out.
Someone’s taking pictures of her head.
I’m looking at a close-up of a Laker
reaching up through three Piston defenders
to dunk the basketball.
If the game was her brain,
that’d be a keeper.