Inpatient: Before Admission




I pulled the young tree’s longest
branch & angered something. Its body landed stinger-
first in my head’s middle. Less harmed than
afraid, I ran to Mother. She read from a thick bug book, 
its spine pressed to my lap above where I sat in hers.
Here, she said, a hornet. This is what has hurt you
In the yard, she’d bend, 
say, that’s crocus. That’s lily of the valley. Which valley? 
In Death Valley we hiked the desert’s flat, and I pointed to prairie
dogs sticking their necks out of holes they’d dug. She clapped

I spend whole days beside train tracks and rest my
neck to rail,
or lie mid-track, beneath pedestrian sight lines.
At night I walk odd neighborhoods until
I agree to see her for a Sunday. I bring
silence      to the kitchen
where she pulls me to make pizza. 
We’ll have to get basil in the dark, she says. 
In her garden she cuts half a plant, 
is this enough? Under the stove light
we spread leaves over the crust we’ll burn.
Now she swears she never had
that book of bugs. In my head
her fingers trace the black outlines of wings. 
I retrace wings in the air with my fingers.
We wait
across from each other, 
elbows propped on the dinner table.
Against my face, 
my hand presses to name her.