(after The Mary Timony Band)
I was never good at climbing fences—the rust bites
too hard into my skin to launch me from one side to the other
in any weather. But even walled in and afraid of the road
I don’t know how to be held by a rope anymore, no more than
a bear recognizes the steel trap before she’s fighting it. Today
is another package on my patio, an echo of a headache,
a disappointment humming in my chest, growing louder
like horses drawing near, untamed and unshod. I run loose, but
only so far, holding my hands in the shape of a prayer.
I want my imagination back. If I had pockets I’d keep quarters
for the jukebox. I’d measure the fault line of my body shaking
in the grass. I’d keep a heavy yellow flashlight under the kitchen sink
like my parents did, in case of emergency. But sometimes dark is easier
and this isn’t that kind of emergency. Even now with my arms
full of lightning I can’t open a box until I know what’s inside.
My city shrinks and shrinks until I only speak to the silver sky, as if
I could stay a secret. Armageddon is how things go missing—
the park, the claw, the facts blown to the four corners of the earth,
the dullest fever to wash down the drain. Our bodies are full
of clocks defined by light and location and here we wear our bruises
like bracelets. We write our laws on paper and we swallow them stiff
before they’re burned in effigy. Before the horses jump the fence.
What follows me is a phone booth and it’s lost all meaning. I can’t
measure danger when what we hold gilded has embraced spitting blood.
How could I ever fight the bear when she and I are positioned
spine to spine? Maybe the only way out is up, one hand on a Walkman
and the other on an ancient oak. When the sky calls back, I’ll be packed
and ready at the door, a tab of Zofran melting under my tongue.