by Anne Barngrover
That winter, I stirred sugar and cream. I cut your hair
and counted spoons, tamed the river birds
into umbrellas and taught the dog to sit
for a piece of apple. I wanted to unmake a fox earth
into a home. You thanked me a little less
every day, never saw my love-scatter
skunking off like shingles. As a child, I played a hiding
game as if I were the smallest creature,
training my eye to spot places where
I’d disappear if I needed to flee. Too late for you
to track me down. Where would you find
me now? In booths, in burrows, an attic,
a woodpile, your pocket, the milk jug, under bridges,
under porches, under a moss-eaten log?
If trust is to hem your promises
into my jacket lining like folded dollars during
an ice storm, then I have been trusting all my life.
I could vanish in a white rain.
I am trying to sluice your words from my clothes,
sodden with ink. I’ve been meaning to tell you:
I cannot comprehend your changing ways—
from balm to shovel, from padlock to light snow.
The moment I look back, I sour and see again
your lips shaping the words
I will follow you, each syllable tender as teeth.