Annunciation Ongoing

It’s not Jesus but Mary they fight over,
my children lifting her wooden, blue-robed self
from the nativity and losing her all over the house.
We find her in the pocket of small pants,
piled with towels in the bathroom,
wedged beneath the refrigerator door,
a sainted, favored doorstop. It has become our habit
to search for her, sending our eyes
and hands throughout the house
until we find her again, she’s found,
she’s found. I imagine she receives the news
with shock each time—that the hidden life
we interrupt is not really her life,
her body tagged imperceptibly
like a starling once owned and loved,
then ringed around the ankle
and released into the wild, where it believes
itself free, belonging, the same
as all the other birds.


After your bus drove away
I stood looking at the empty grass
where the white house used to be,
living room clapped in half
by a lightning-loosed tree, the storm
that day a folklore, pentecostal.
First there were the firetrucks, the wail and mania,
and then the green cherry picker that lifted
a man in its mechanical fist
to fix the downed lines. You stood
at the helm of your scooter
to watch in your philosophical quiet
as the movers emptied the wings
of the house—tree like a sudden thorax—
and the clouds jostled in epiphanic blue.
And one day the bulldozer came, to raze
the staggered remains, then men
from the city chainsawed the trunk
into smaller and smaller disks,
until there was only the scrubbed earth
like a knee ripped of its scab.
And still you had never asked,
neither of us knowing the site of this undoing
would be your kindergarten bus stop
and in your pink backpack
you would climb into the yellow roar
and wave to me and fold
your secret questions like a note
to be slipped in a lunch, opened later,
token of that thrifted dollhouse
we call childhood.