Jealous burrs grab at my skirt,
little heads to unpluck.
Casals speaks Bach through the cello.
I let out a big, emphatic, You can't live in fear.
Today is roach-stamped day-old breadcrumbs
from the bottom of the breadbox.
The music threads up. It's fall. Nothing clear except
I must eat what's put in front of me.
Roaches scrabble across the dinner table. Huh-huh to fog
my wire rimmed. I wipe the lenses on an untucked corner of button down.
We are at the table, now miniature,
that I fit into the breadbox.
Roach legs crisscross.
Are they totems?
In the background, Bach plays telephone with Casals who
came home with me from the Ann Arbor Public.
I set up miniature you and miniature me.
Play their serenade, Bach tells Casals, and
I am armed, ready to hot glue
the breadbox shut.
Casals is dutiful, does Bach one better.
Cello strings break. In the pause,
room enough for a
If I Stood and Watched Them
The girl's laughter swings their uvulas. Their mouths are
open and I see the birds inside, nervous little heads twitching.
Warm laughter sweeps up the bird bodies and flies them out.
The hatchlings are frail. They wobble on the tongues.
Hair, wheat, shoelaces press into the saliva mud.
When they fall out, they fall up to nest and repeat.
Each laugh is a birdlet that cannot swoop, no loop
de loop, no dotted lines—
The girl's next laugh is crueler. Burning is
the first and best thing for the weak.
Gravity pulls the birds down past the girls' feet,
sucks them straight through the worm dirt.
Through the crust and into the molten core they go—
Judge them on smaller scales. Only hear the birdsongs
the girls first made, not the bodies burning out two fathoms
beneath the girl's arches, under the white ladders of their spines.