The little town in my brain
has seen better days
but at least you're here,
you with the brown yarn hair,
you whose father farmed dairy.
The way you gaze at your palm
when you speak is sexy,
as if our hands controlled us
and the brain was secondary—
I wish the brain were secondary.
Once when we were together,
eating bread and cheese by the river,
the Gunderson dog caught
a hare right in front of us.
He took its neck in his teeth
and thrashed. By the time Ruth
Gunderson wrestled the dog off
the hare was dead, curled
in the grass like a towel.
You hid your face in your hands. Little
man that I was, I took this
as a chance to finally touch you.
I'm sorry, I said, reaching across
the thin, peculiar air between us.
I'm sorry you had to see that,
letting my fingertips rest
on the skin of your back.
You said nothing, uncrossed
your legs and ran toward
the pine woods. I just sat there
and watched ants feast
on the hare's blood, black
windmill in the distance spinning.
I was born in a place where all the people were clean,
where Joanie had no trouble falling asleep,
where Frank was allowed to pay for breakfast
using seashells he'd collected, where ten lizards
arranged themselves in a circle for no reason,
where nobody's wrists were too thin,
and when the man under the stars with a knife in his pants
examined his reflection in the river and asked,
Is this the night? Is this the night I finally sing?
his reflection replied, No, no, not tonight,
so the man curled up in a ball and fell asleep
and dreamt of a place where all the people were dirty,
so dirty, they began to believe they were clean.