A giraffe at my right hand,
a piece of bread, a cup of water.
After a day of chores and child
entertainment, a space heater
at my back, I write with three women.
One swings you around the room,
your sounds trilling back to me.
The language I must understand–
the magnetism of fish, the wash
of carrot puree around a tray.
The evening spreads into our goodnight
time–your other mother in San Antonio,
you asleep on triple blankets on the wood floor.
At 13, you’ll scream, “I wish you were dead.”
We’ll write you a letter cataloging your injuries
to give you later. I’m sorry for Rochester,
where fingers split in the winter, where
the sky is like soup, boiling and stirring.
A mountain range of rubble is written,
designed, erected around you.