Before the House Burnt Down/Him in It
A man in an undershirt and boxers lies
drunk on his front lawn. I’m at the window
watching his daughter trying to pull him
into their clapboard house. You’d think
it would be easy, given his skeletal arm,
his smallness. You’d think her mother
and brothers would be there to help her,
the street filled with concerned neighbours.
The girl’s front door seems so far away.
She sways, dodges her father’s other hand
grabbing for her slim smooth legs. He loves
to shave them she told me once,
and me standing as if pinned to the space
between us. What could she do, but walk away?
For years after, how I wanted not to know.
How I wanted that house to burn down, him in it.