by Anne-Marie Thompson
Yesterday we said, Let’s meet
at the school, at the park, at the gate of the
amphitheater. Let’s go
to the buffet. Yesterday
we were a little bit smaller.
Look at your hair, fingernails,
the wall in your closet. Your tooth
and some of our beliefs.
We believed in flawed laws
dividing distance by planes.
Yesterday the loud neighbor boy ran
into the yard to give hugs.
Yesterday remember it rained.
Yesterday we said, Tomorrow.
Maybe tomorrow we can.
When all the work of living has been done,
or not. Sometimes it isn’t time. Sometimes
it’s only getting started. Then it’s gone.
Okay. Let’s start with plants. Flowers. Here’s one
that’s kinda wilty, see? Snap the stems
down low, right here. The pretty part is done.
When we walk down our street and count the run-
over worms. Or bird-pecked worms. Sun-melted worms.
They’re sort of there. But also sort of gone.
Daniel Tiger sings that song: “Grown-
Ups Always Come Back.” I think he means
it’s hard to say goodbye, but when you’re done
with kisses and a couple tears, it’s fun,
mostly, getting back to it. The games.
The songs. Maybe a snack. When someone’s gone,
it can feel scary. Or weird. Like there’s a ton
of heavy air just hanging in the space
where they should be. Keep going. You’re not done.
That’s it: Keep going and you’re never gone.
Lots of rules are good. How to ask
a nice question.
How many spaces to move on the board.
You’ll learn which to break.
Your father chose Judas
as his confirmation name, dropped
out of Skidmore after a week.
I skipped sorority meetings for the symphony.
Nights without a moon,
my aunt climbed over fences and cut
chains, lifting dogs away
from their yards of violent neglect.
There’s a fine and final line between right
and wrong. I wish
I could tell you what it is. I wish
I could say, Break a rule but break it
loud and out in the open. But
there is a time as well to sneak around
in perfect darkness
to snap the thing in two.