Lying on a stairway, broken glasses. One piece at the bottom, alone. Two pieces lingered several steps away. I thought of John Lennon, how the Super at his apartment building handed John’s broken glasses to Yoko the day bullets raced through his path. I thought of his son, Julian, seventeen, solitary traveler on a flight from England to New York. When he arrived, he had to step over the remains of a crimson puddle that had earlier fired through his father’s veins. Many young men wished they were Julian. But not that day. Not the day Yoko asked him to cast his gaze on his dead father’s body.

Years later I viewed Thomas’ body. My fifteen-year-old cousin, killed in a wreck that was no one’s fault. His face puffy, his smile still the same in death as in life. Friends gathered at the funeral home, filled the porch outside and the room within. His best friend, Jerrod, flanked by parents as he stumbled to the casket for one last look.

The church overflowed on the day of Thomas’ funeral. His mom cried out, broke down, sobbed at the end. As I left church and stepped into sunshine, I tugged sunglasses from my purse, breaking them in two. But everything looked darker, even without the colored lenses.

Monsters in the Night

No gruesome giant
earthquakes toward me
as I run jagged lines
across a field filled
with dry grass and stones.

No vampire spears
my neck with sharp bites,
turning me into less
than living.

No, there’s only me,
extending my leg,
so someone falls.

Inside Us

Your eyes tumble
to the ground in front of me
Wash my heart
with green blood
shake me up
like a garlic and onion soda
pasted to my chin
drink me up
like mud like asphyxiation
Where will we be next week

Birthday Cake

Grandma, flour drifting
like time moving
from hands and apron
to a new venue,
baked a banana cake
each year for my birthday.

Beat eggs, fold in flour,
sugar, add buttermilk,
walnuts, heat oven,
combine cream cheese
and sugar for icing.

The year she lost the recipe,
she worried her gnarled knuckles,
mixed ingredients, prepared
the cake from memory,
a place where her husband
still lived and her children
were buds on the new rose bush.

Beat eggs, fold in flour,
sugar, add buttermilk
walnuts, heat oven,
combine cream cheese
and sugar for icing.

She stirred, stirred,
but forgot the sugar.
Each birthday her creation
a marker for the past,
a summons to the future.

Grandma’s Snow Globe

She taps the sky above a man in blue, a woman in red, holding hands, each with a leg outstretched on the ice-covered pond. Powdered trees stand guard as the skaters lock eyes,
ready to spin like glistening flakes. Blue veins skate Grandma’s fingers as she clutches the acrylic dome, her hand cloud cover as she shakes the globe. When the tea kettle whistles,
she sets the table with cups and cookies for three.