Often one of my daughters
howls me to her bed,
and like a trained victim I trance
to their denned room
to comfort a face
shaped by some dream
or another—eyes pressed shut,
lips in the nightlight
the shade of a dried peach.
Isn’t it absurd,
an old prince like me,
stirred by their delicate mouths?
I nuzzle my head into hints
of urine and Vick’s.
Then, too awake
inside the ticking, I gnaw away
at the latest tragedy
from Florida or Mosul
or simply dwell on
the wrecked condition of my kind—
wondering what I can do
about the rapidity
of my daughters’ heartbeats
and my own human
rapaciousness over their lives.
Some blunt hammering set me off,
that and the teeth of a saw.
I left behind my sweater,
the remains of a sandwich, my camera,
some paperweights, my lament. I left behind
a few weak coals I’d blown alive.
This happened somewhere
off one of your forgotten roads,
just past a farm stand where customers leave
a little corrugated shed
with the smell of rotting corn-silk in their clothes.
The important fs are focus, flatness, and frame.
As I walked toward a harvest
of photographs you vanished
in the pinhole just beyond
my reach, like an owl in its darkest seat.
Listen to David Roderick’s reading of “Dear Suburb,” below…