1. Lessons of childhood

Like a wolf, I chose hunger
until the odds improved. I learned
to hold my words like a hand of cards;
small fingers, ravaged nails, gripping
scheming. To prevent spoilage, I swallowed
needs like mother’s milk. I learned to forage
for words, sniff out smoke signals.
Biding time, timed out, losing a future.

2. The clues were everywhere

in the way the north light filtered
through Forest Hills windows
illuminating stripes on the somber
upholstery—a sepia childhood,

in two young parents asleep on the pull-
out couch, the seams splitting between them
in silence, in a baby falling from a crib
with a scar forever beneath her brow,

in the boy who comes home from school and puts
his hand through a pane of glass. Not enough
stitches to hold one family.

3. Cold Case

The case should be resolved,
boxed, shelved. Still, I stand
in each line-up, pay
everyone’s penalties.
My eyes say arrest me.