c r o s s
c o n n e c t
l o s t n i c k e l s
J A N E T B U C K
At the measly age of four,
I watch my father change the sheets.
Strip the bed as if he's
We'd learn to do the same with death.
Teach it to disappear
like nickels that never come back.
Corners are tight, cases are pressed
by the steam of a hired maid.
I wonder if she forgot this job --
or rightly assumed this ghost
was a Cyclops he'd have to address
at blood-letting forks on orphaned roads.
Your body is under the earth
with worms that will surface
after a vaporous rain.
He knows you won't.
No quarters, no bounce.
Just acres and acres alone.
The mattress has holes from cigarettes
he quickly hides with rustling leaves,
his sweat-drenched palms now carapace.
The burn will stay an iron secret --
stay a bridge we will not cross.
I grab a pillow from his hands,
catch fading whiffs of sweet Chanel.
The bottle was empty -- I stole it
from your vanity to keep your scent.
Wrapped it in my leotards,
hid it in a bottom drawer,
not sure if its cap were Byzantine gold
or junk mail from an angry god.
Snakes of black limos are gone --
long before I'm old enough
to take a foot, kick a tire.
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published in association with the
university of pennsylvania's
kelly writers house