32,000 years ago, my husband texts me,
ice trapped an Artic ground squirrel
& that might have been the end of a world,
but scientists grew a flowering plant
from fossil fruit in her stomach. Should we
have a third child? I carry DNA from any man
I’ve had sex with, any child I’ve grown, I read
online, so I’m never alone in my body. What
haunts our house, our daughter asks—she heard
a man mutter, hook, line &—& what? A horseman
burying a red foal in the pasture’s gloaming?
This guy, his 7-year-old boy was shot.
I can’t talk about him out loud. My husband
only cries for children. A father who loses his son
hews his body into a rowboat, creaked ribs opening
to the son’s light—it’s gone, gone, gash left
as if he birthed him. Is the man still a daddy,
our daughter asks, if he left his little girls behind?
Let’s play under the house, she sings, let’s, let’s all
us ghosted girls play ring around dusty roses. There’s
no one to teach us to die well. There’s no one
to teach us to let bodiless children go. This guy
kept reminders, secrets, after they’d donated everything else,
baseball cap shaped to a tiny skull hanging
in the shed, baby teeth boxed & netted
bag of sunlit hair in his desk. How harsh
mourning is: Does he say at night, Son, come home. Come.
Whose voice does he expect to hear? Where’s
home now? He thought about killing himself, joining
his son—he’d open his heart, emerging a stranger.
My husband saved me when I was young—when
I tried to die. I haven’t been able to name
the chasm between here & there. Don’t leave me yet.
The stars loom the little boy a blanket, hymning him
in the cinnamon dark. Now I couldn’t choose to cross
over without my daughter. The father holds (though
his breaking bones) his body as spruce boat, still on
dawn’s water, waiting for a heron to land on his prow,
together a little while longer. You could take care
of the kids if I was gone. We’re lashed where we’ll never
return, a homeland of small hands waving. Yes. Yes.