(I keep a little girl in a cardboard box
in the basement.) Today (She’s about five.)
the house smells like cheese-encrusted shoes;
(She’s always been about five) I’m boiling broccoli.
And rain taps at my windows—
at my grandmother’s windows—
(I think.) I don’t know the grammar of inheritance.
(I have tried bringing her upstairs,
tried taking her by the hand,)
Death gave me these windows, I want to say,
(but her jaws are strong.)
and this roof over my head.
But that’s not proper English.
(I wish I knew her name, something.)
The rain taps gently at the windows
(No one believes me; no one comes to look.
The only thing she loves is uncooked macaroni.)
and despite the smell I’m happy,
clean and happy with my dripping hair the way clouds,
vanishing after long hard tears, are clean,
(When I turn the light on she howls
and wails and beats her eyes.)
are clean and happy.