I know you by heart. You are simple as stick figures,
easy to read as summer. Your beats are
staccato, the way you drum your fingers on tablecloths,
then stop and unclose your fists in the afternoon,
your fingernails
blue: a whisper of glitter on a stark napkin.
The way you tug at a curl means two more weeks of
rain, because everything takes its cues from your tenderness.
When you’re tender you are mute as stars.
You let your bottom lip droop like a flower,
quivering because it was touched too closely,
filled too fully by the snow.
You tug on my
hand the same way, stopping me to cry at a dead frog in
the road because you are a small soft blur of crayon
on construction paper.
Sometimes you are the one who cuts.
I know when you are not tender from
the way you put your hand up
to your neck, from the knifelikeness of your elbows.
You are freshness too, the scent of simple wildfire
in the brush that starts when you rub your hands together.
You contain darkness too, the viridian green of a forest
caught in a storm, or the
shape of a gargoyle on an arch, and yet
the way you stare into the distance is all things holy.
The precise placement of your hand on your chin
or cheek can mean peace or war: war for a
hundred thousand years, war that robs you of
braveness, the kind of war that nobody wins
and nothing is left but dry grass because you left
although I know you by heart