If woman's only purpose is
to sew on buttons and reduce fevers,
then why do I feel this aching in my hips
like the grating sound of fingernails
on the wood of a sinking ship?

I ignore the smell of morning
as three whole stars flicker
like the light bulb in her hall way, a distress signal
meant only for me, the girl
who used to look up at the sky
and now can hardly curl her spine
with enough strength to see beyond her toes.

I know what blood looks like. I know
the prick of a finger on a needle threading
desire into the torn seam of
a lucky shirt, blue shirt made of cotton
with the brown buttons. How
he filled it with his shoulders.

I know what blood looks like. I know
the flush of a cheek burning
as something inside begins to churn
and tries not to breathe too much. You're
sleeping and I don't want to disturb you.

Don't open your eyes, the coast is calling
so says the sand that tasted of
gunpowder the night I scattered your ashes
on the colder of two oceans and wished
I could draw sharks with the smell of your
Indiana blood. I knew you only
when I knew not where to plant my feet.