Half-Life

You probably didn’t know this, but I used to hide
in the trunk of your car.

I saw myself as a gorgeous outlaw, putting on my makeup
and touching my red lips to the gun barrel. It was too dark
to see my reflection, but I knew how well my eyebrows
waved hello and how
my thumb would look inside your mouth. 

How you saw me was different- I know
like that girl who always wore the same t-shirt
day after day,
with a picture of a moose on it only instead of a moose it was
a picture of two people who are both halves of a horse, but keep
missing each other
day after day, oblivious
to the threat of extinction.

(and you never knew
and no one asked, ever)

While you were at work
I tucked my legs up into your perfect shoulder blades
while you looked for the right paperclip
which is the wrong color
and you will always be looking for it- I think
that if you wanted me to hold the pages
I would meet you halfway
I would stay in the trunk
and you could take me out
whenever you wanted to.

(I wouldn’t hide)

What Remains, After Exhumation

We all remembered
how our great-aunt Helene’s
house was
noisily full
of retired ghosts, dragging
abacus chains, clicking
black eyelids
which seemed just like two halves
of
a bivalve shell.

my own room was cold
empty with
the silence of all the elephants
dull pink with mud flaps

run out of it.

seeing that
the mailbox bird outside
is a crow, of course leaping
right at the
man with a green horn
right at the
sitting duck eyes, gleaming
a gleeful stab! –
the way Helene wants it
the way

a spider
could live in your cheek
or you could wake up every
morning
with flecks of rust, staining
the pillow
and no idea if anyone in your
family is still alive.

We watch the
old black-and-white reruns
from the
backs of couches.

Lock this boy up,
he crashes his cars together-
trying to untape desks
Cut off the goalposts
And eat them tonight
Mom-in-the-kitchen stuff
Landing on her chin.

Wet shoes on the rubber mat-
Trying to read street signs
For what the earrings had cost
and for other articles
on subjects
on the milk-spilled floor.

A (partial) Found Poem, from Caroline B. Cooney’s “The Face on The Milk Carton”