by Jeffrey Bean
Inside a log on fire, inside the red,
is where I spent my childhood.
Night was the smell of ash and burnt nests
yawning in the chimney. Snow
was comforting because we’d won the war
and warm cars could take us home.
Inside a tent of sheets, I drew
pictures of talking birds. Mail trucks
sprayed exhaust, tiger lilies
nodded. Dear neighbor girl,
champion equestrian, we were weightless,
do you remember? We floated to the ceiling
when you pulled the glowing lever
in your mother’s closet. Tonight,
I know you are still in that seaside restaurant
dipping crab meat in a dish of butter.
I’m the head waiter, singing to a sparkler
about your birthday. Here, the babysitter
can’t smack my mouth, bloody
my lips. Your father can’t scream
through the house, smashing your toys
while you hide in the attic. Tonight, the stars
are alive over the parking lot, but
only for six-hundred million more breaths.