My husband raps the door with knuckles bruised
to warn the dormouse that we’re back.
She’s made a nest of little pink ones
translucent as skinned grapes, tiny
as the secrets I keep.
If you listen hard enough, there’s a lowing
drumming in their chests that
spins the morning and marches us
through our day. The knocking startles her
the way his memories now do.
A childhood of boxcars and chimneys
noisy with sparrows. Scuffed helmets
and beaks scratching metal and brick
seeking the sharp eye of the sun.
We breathe in the fever spice of an early fall.
Long-toothed grass turning to hay, easterly
winds sussing the tired world, tree tops turned
to leaf crackle at our feet.
The world floats on this tremolo:
glass lakes, wet-nosed deer, firepits.
Whether by wind or bullet or ghost story
they shift form.
And he changes, too, when he recalls the widows
huddled near hearth and loom, the women
who fasted their desires in thread and ladles.
He asks if they were happy making food and cloth.
I nod, turning lie into enchantment.
Of course, nothing makes up
for the warp and weft of hearts undone.
In slumber, his body unravels, remembers
the longing of the unbuttoned boy
before the urea-grip of spent shells and gunpowder.
I’ve saved him, I think, but
it’s a noisy country now, a restless country.
Storm’s near. The thunder and lightning fall
on the same beat. Still I listen for him
for the beating of animal hearts and summers
gone to seed. Land of black loam conundrum
of birthing and weaning
and carnage, yes—but also of home.
About the Author: Genevieve DeGuzman’s work appears or is forthcoming in Cider Press Review, An Online Artifact, FIVE:2:ONE, FOLIO, Reed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Switchback, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize and a literary arts resident at Can Serrat. She lives in Portland, Oregon.