In a dream of the Midwest, my body is a silo
of sugar-seeking kitchen ants, peeling linoleum,
yellow-greens of a fading bruise. And the soft
rustle of snakes in dry leaves, of Cain creeping
east and east toward Nod as he calls What is it
to be somebody’s loved child? What is it to be loved?
The drowning world wakes to this grief.
In the hospital, the men who touch my body
insist on keeping me alive. In the safe room,
a mattress with a blanket on the floor, then
no blanket. A fluorescent light blazes all night
like the first words of God. I try to be harmless
as oakmoss, vulture-picked bones, a cushioned
room where someone has written Salve Deus
in green crayon on the ceiling. Maybe an angel.
In the small life in which I do not dream,
a man threatens to beat my unhappiness out of me,
and I cannot pass a window in a tall building
without trying to leap. It is not sleep or flight
I long for. What I want is to break my own heart.