I’m trying to know how swallows know
to build nests from mud. How in deep winter,
our heater sounds like locusts. How I’m always
in the kitchen. A day brittle, a day sweet. How
people are such thin sacks of meat
trying to spill out. Halls of dried leaves;
leavings that meant nothing; receipts I took
as I left. A forest in which there is no clearing: people
hurt themselves alone, hurt each other
to hurt themselves.

The projects hunker down. We trace figure eights
in the parking lot with ice skates,
each other’s backs with our knuckles.
Swim to the roof. Jump
in place at midnight, to make the day
a bit longer. We linger too long. We are crude
oil, the town around us water.

There’s a vodka-blue place in my head
to wait for the day to click
over. Each slice
of street between stained fingers
is not-this-place. The sky
the same over both:
brown at the bottom. Brittle, sweet.

Slumped smoking outside the side door,
a song hummed sweet and low
wafts over both places. I can’t recall
the words, but in both
it gets stuck in rafters before it reaches sky.
What broke in my head at some point
was maybe there for the breaking.

In the old place, patio furniture hulks alone
in each backyard. My uncle drinks inside, nights,
from opaque cups he keeps across the room
from where he sits. Each cigarette butt
flushed. Towel folded, narrow bed. The clock’s
tick the loudest voice in the room.
No holes in the wall where nails were. How
much I don’t miss.

My uncle’s opaque cups. My secret glug
before I bring my brimming glass out. I don’t know
if it was cowardice or laziness that brought me to our kitchen
but neither is getting me out. Air
sucks itself into itself: the dregs
try to dry themselves out.

Maybe I’m better now.
Not despite what happened in that room
when I was four; or the ways, later, my body failed
but because it did.

Night hooks holes into us, drags us under. The dogs
come home like a river. We’re
a slick of quarters in a palm. We’re a palm. There’s a train going under
the river. Let’s take a canoe above it. Let’s fly
a kite to the basement where we curled
around the boiler, made a circle
of tea lights on saucers. Let’s
blow them out.



Nina Puro’s work is forthcoming or recently appeared in BETTER: Culture and Lit, H_ngm_n, Indiana Review, Jellyfish, Prelude, the PEN America Poetry Series, and other places. A chapbook, Two Truths & A Lie, will drop from dancing girl press in 2015. Nina lives in Brooklyn, works in publishing, and is bad at thinking of clever third-person quips to put in places like this.