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Our dinner relay up that single
flight of stairs began sometime before the
Hansel and Gretel game, Harding and I
fleeing our prescribed roles: Frightened
German Child A and B
, minus gingerbread house.
You, beclawed man-witch, cheated at
everything,

restraining my skirt's tail or dragging me,
squealing, out from behind my rocking-horse.
Often I'd trip, until my knees learned not to be so knobby,
to take their turns. Plus you hadn't yet busted yours,
tugged by Samboo Bamboo into a ditch, and still played
basketball at the Y, insisted on installing that hoop by the
garage. But I couldn't ever jump high enough
to lay-up and Harding was only ever concerned
with deconstructing his bicycle.

I was thirteen when I caught your hardest pitch,

soft inner cushion of my upper lip
wound like pink yarn around orthodontia's
razor-brackets
.

My mouth filled with blood. I suddenly heard everything:
the day tapering down to orange, mourning doves in some abstract
far-away over which evening had already
stretched,

and you watching me run inside, soundless
as our twin magnolias.

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