elegy for lost houses
The mice still run beneath bathtubs
in my grandmother’s two-story.
Nest in the rusted swing set on
Park Street, where my blue cotton
nightgown hangs rotting from the line.
In a trailer in Monroe, the paneling
is buckling from the water we can’t keep out.
My sister and I sleep, tight fisted, beneath
yellow covers; fear uncles, the devil, the hairbrush.
Even so, I dreamed I took them all back once,
the houses, painted each room the softest eggshell.
Stripped the shag down to the gleaming boards.
Polished every window and pushed every
bed against the wall. Claimed them each,
dish by dish, chair by chair.
Mended the broken lamp, the frayed curtains.
Lit the pilot light and swept out the crickets.
Unlocked every cabinet to find my mother
crouching inside and everything I ever misplaced
come back to me: my red barrette, a roller skate.
Every sock paired and folded in the drawer.