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It was the only house I’d ever seen with two chimneys.
Shell red, dog-tooth white.
Some winters are like that: You see something.

Colonies of ladybugs traveled
from the living room’s ceiling
corners as the weather shifted.

You showed me the game your mother taught you:
hello tea kettle.     hello sugar
             and polar caps

                                       hello knees

There are only so many things to see
back to. The ladybugs travel
one at a time sometimes from one corner

to the other
cluster like spilled pepper on blue paper.

                     hello sunshine

Smoke rose from one chimney; the other
held its own dark.

There are two kinds of people:
the ones who say Nothing

when their father repeats the same story
again, and the ones who stop him.

                                    hello little one


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Path unlatched, the grass bleached,
a National Geographic on the carpet
where you first learned that salt comes

from the earth. There’s
the great pyramids.
There’s another sea
you don’t know the name of.

You’re sharpening a pencil
like time, like your hands
could do that. The temptation
to eat glue comes only
because it’s something you learned
could hold things together.

Look at all the things you can do.

This color and this color
and this color together
make another, and another.

You go home and are told
the dog has been bad,
so you say BAD! to the dog
and feel wrong.

The back door beats hard
against the house. You think
about a story you heard
where a boy had wings,

where his mother folded
his little wings
and sent him outside.

And then there is what you learn
from the time it takes to get
from where you are to the outside.
Who you were thereafter.  Still
without the word erosion.


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There is a kaleidoscope of chemicals Elijah takes now—chest bound, pre-op, new hormones rattling like private thunder, sweet peppering of stubble on his jawline. I am pained when the checkout girl calls him Ma’am. We stand drinking Coke in the thick Texas night outside the washateria, giggle at a chain of raccoons running by on their tiptoes. He is studying theology. God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves, he says. You have a poster on your fridge with an illustrated geologic time scale. There is a nautilus, an armored fish, a stegosaurus, an owl. Eon, era, period, epoch. Earth forms approximately four point six billion years ago. In the middle of the night, baby mice fall from the rafters onto the bed, looking like kidney beans glowing in the dark. The mice are too small to have been climbing on their own—their mother was trying to take them somewhere. Four have fallen, and you wonder if the mother managed to save any. If by now she is sleeping in her somewhere, holding at least one of the lives she made. You remember a teacher telling you how water was made in 2nd grade. You memorized the periodic table. All those little boxes: pale blue, pale pink, pale yellow. The kid with leukemia who sat in front of you would pass you the pictures they drew. Stick figure drawing a stick figure. Stick figure drawing a house. You drew your own body and passed it back. One day the kid was a solid. Later a gas. Then he evaporated. This, the teacher said, is how you make a cloud.




by Sophie Klahr

see that woman, my mother whispered,
she was the doctor we had to find

to give you
your abortion,

and I had not known
nor imagined
she was someone

who needed to be found

we were at a play, my mother and I
we were supposed to be

our bodies to face the stage

and I could not quite see
    that woman

and the house lights dimmed

then shut
to dark

and some other lives began

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