Maybe God haunted our stairwell at night
with a shadowy stance
hard to perceive. Not once

did I see my parents linger
within that shotgun hall. It was,
for me, a wishing womb, glassed in

by seven French doors,
where the pendant light swung
and stuttered with water whenever

someone showered too long—
the bulb, a faerie ship in a bottled squall,
fritzing on—off. How early we learn

to step back, rather than forth,
convinced What we are,
already, cannot be undone.

In the catch of memory’s breath,
reclamation goes on:
a nail drops out of the paneling.