In April, we take the Buick
around the bottom of the lake,
Mom driving, me sitting cross-
legged in the front seat. I think
how tired and angry and scattered
I am, somebody's name
sparkler-sprawled on a dark
July night. My lips think how soft
my grandma's cheek (fizzle softens
to firefly, shoulders soften to seat).
Tomorrow's kiss gets me through
Gary. She's nearing ninety-seven,
wears compression socks pulled on
what seems like thread by thread.
“Painful to watch,” Mom says.
Now, behind the wheel, the bridge
of her nose is stitched down with all
the things that don't have words. We listen
to Elton John and Fleetwood Mac.
You can go your own way, we sing
while we swoop up to Madison
for my sister. On a map, we'd be a starling,
startled, wings spread, color of a deep
river at dusk, muddy in flood season.
I can't remember if starlings stay all year,
or if they migrate and return,
the old birds blurring into the new.