two children’s faces in the spring,
a brother and a sister with filament hair, and beyond their heads,
a house on the hill, all of it battlefield. These two go at it
every day, shoveling the red dirt out and roofing it with plywood,
resourceful, army canteens and hatchets hooked to their belts, nails between
their teeth. Oh, how he protected her,
how he stood against their father when he freighted down the long hall,
oh how he bent his head like a shield while she cowered.
Now in the pit they’ve tunneled, in the house they’ve rooted out,
he digs his fingers in her. He’s strong,
made for coming like a second coming. She’s
made for taking it, taking all of the earth into her body.
In a year, her brother runs away across the country
back to Texas, no more war.
Back at the house, the walls ache. The doors of the rooms barred shut.
Their father’s footsteps rattle the threshold, shotguns
leaning against the bedframe, loaded and cocked.
She still snuck into the woods at night after her brother had gone
to the covering their own hands built,
where they once leaned against each other in the dark, the whippoorwill’s
balled and trilling in the fists of their hearts.
Copyright © Persea Books 2016
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.