—after Joy Harjo
My cousin is a field I keep coming to
but am afraid to trespass on.
I stand on the edge and look over.
With a shovel I dig out a burial ground.
I don’t ask my cousin’s permission. In it, I pour
all the things I’ve saved that hold the guilt of him:
Pokémon cards, maps of our new civilizations
and forts, trading card contracts, photos
of us sticking our hands in a flame. A weight
inside me lifts. I ask him where his stutter is.
He says, I ate it whole. He says, someone
is ripping down my grandmother’s house. Her
land, where we used to play, sits
on the edge of his field. He shifts
under her foundation, as if tapping
his foot. My cousin says,
you stopped coming over. I say,
you stopped inviting me. Invitation:
an etiquette my mother required of me,
something my cousin has never understood.
A week grows on my cousin. Then,
another. I know I should pluck them
like weeds but instead watch them grow,
knowing whatever I say will be the wrong thing.
My cousin has stopped talking to me.
What could I ever say to get him back?
Sometimes I walk his perimeter and try
to remember where we used to build our forts:
I look for familiar patterns, but all the paths
are overgrown, and all the trees begin to look the same.
A new tree is growing on my cousin.
In the light, it’s translucent and full—
I take a picture and carry it with me.
Inside me, I build a new house.
Copyright © Meg Eden
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.