Everything Is Normal (Unless You Know Better)
Your mother counts stairs, train cars,
birds flying over and birds
gathered in trees. She makes
lists of what she needs to worry about.
Foil-wrapped phones hang
like slabs of bacon in her pantry.
What would happen if you went in there?
Go ahead and try if you want to find out.
Grandma sleeps with a hatchet. She
prays loud and hard to a knotty pine Jesus,
the one precious thing she saved from
a kerosene fire. Poor Grandpa.
In your room, the bad fit of a window fan
leaves space for flitting things to slip inside.
Bees claim the covers of the bed.
Ladybugs and beetles share the pillow.
Don't bother them
and they won't bother you—
that lie is fat as the half-brother
who can't leave you be.
A bat finally moves Daddy
off the sofa. He brings a broom, swings
a fold of blackness from the corner
straight into your closet.
He never finds his tongue but his look
says he's done all he's going to. You're
left to deal with that creature inside,
alive and desperate and clicking.
This poem appeared in Kakalak 2020 and will be included in the author's forthcoming chapbook.