They took his sister away at dawn,
her face the pearl-gray of shadowed water.
He clung to the safety of his threshold
wanting them to come for him.
But they never did.
He was left to finger the walls
of untended rooms, hide his face
in lace curtains, watch
the crumbling garden gate.
By mid-day, canopies of clouds
blew steadily past. Smells of moist earth
drifted through the house, smells
of his father, his dirt packed palms.
His mother’s sunburnt knuckles,
fingernails ground thin and ragged
minding their orchards—apple and pear.
At nightfall, his parents returned.
Puffs of sultry air tumbled across
the sleeping trees. His mother’s careful
frown, his father’s whistling carelessness
came down on him as
winter comes down a mountain.