Don’t count on the words you live beside changing:
grief becoming ribbon, tree wolf, cinnamon suitcase
or wealthy or snore or slobber. Because nothing
besides Heaven changes, does it? Only a yellowing sky
from the storm hovering over the sleeping.
Wish for a word like startle—what it might signify
to an animal small as a loaf of bread. How it might shift
in the hovering of words denoting group: a startle of small
children, a startle of girls walking home lonely. Alone,
I meant to say. I meant never to say blossom
or unfolding because a hand will open any number of ways,
to reveal the crescent-moon marks of nails dug in
or a lifeline long and furrowed or a button or a subway token
or a firefly let loose to join the lights pulsing in sync
in the late-night field. That same hand clenched before
history’s stiff lesson—the word I never wished for: fist.
Not raised in protest, and pushed never into mandible or belly.
And not fisting, either, too late, I tried to say
when you professed love in the crowded restaurant.
As if in the closed hand’s lexicon
the clenched body might read flower-of-meat or bud-waiting-
for-rain or anodyne swallowed against the fear of opening.