My brother reading Chomsky
acts like he understands
but I know he’s been
stuck in the same chapter
since college, his desk littered
with library postcards requesting
its return.

And my older sister
says she’s almost finished
her anthology of feminist
poets from the 1800’s,
a thin volume.

Her letter to me has a second page
—therapeutic healing I surmise—
how she now understands
abandonment, responsibility.

My parents loved to read
more than they loved
parenting, especially the parts
where empathy would have fit,

the need to salt and swallow

Today I’m reading
a modern allegory
about a lion who tries to eat
his firstborn cub while the lioness,
back arched, snarling, reminds

me of my ex-wife,
the long stretch between meals,
my illiterate yearning hunger.