he bashed his head
against the cell wall
until there was a risen welt and blood.
The guard gave him an ice pack;
once alone, he tore it open
the thick blue liquid. My mother calls to tell the story
and quickly changes the subject, complains
about the cornfield newly cut
and how the mice pour
into the old farmhouse
through each small crack.
Even a farmhouse can leak
into dry earth. She says, Nothing is water-tight.
I agree, Some things are out of our hands.
It feels good to say, but isn’t entirely true.
I remember how as a boy in summer,
he never cupped
the lightning bugs, hands match-lit,
their bodies’ electric oil
on his bare chest, his arms,
how he ran
through the tall corn,
calling to us before stepping out
into the yard,
before standing—arms-wide, howling—
like a leper
with glorious glowing wounds.