Your mother is not watching
Young and the Restless,
but sits in the quiet, dark living
room. She won’t care that your bed
has gone unmade for three days,
sheets in a sour ball in the corner,
the carton of milk round
as your cousin’s belly.

Outside you place
your ear to the ground,
hear the ants marching
to a cadence of the dead, the dead
but to them it sounds like sugar.

If anyone ever catches you
near the two liquor houses
that almost touch like second cousins,
your mother will beat you sky color.

Suddenly like rain
your father arrives.
Takes you outside
in the gravel driveway
to look under the hood
of his green truck.
You stare at the bones
of his wrist, his nose snub
like yours. He asks you to pass
the tool, says that’s a flat head
not a Phillips.

The cancer in your grandmother’s kidneys
never whispered. It grabbed the mic
and started yelling the dead, the dead,
a deacon for dialysis, for insulin, for water.
You remember them all around her bed.
Your mother, your father’s sister,
you barely knew, the father
you wanted like your littlest cousin
wanted ponies with blond hair.

Tyree Daye