bold jumpers

This is how it went:

the pilgrims, with their beige exoskeletons, six legs, antennae

they travelled, they followed my misery, mistaking it for promised land, a place where they could be free

and I learned the form of poetry in the exoskeleton, six legs, hourglass waist of a wasp on the windowsill

I learned to leave my misery on W Main

in the gouges in the restored wood floor

in the chocolate leather couch my father couldn’t remember how to fit through the door

in the Roomba I had to beg for, left in the corner, 

beg for so that my days weren’t passed sweeping messes that broke my spirit more than broke my heart

and the pilgrims were there, from the apartment above North Dorr Liquor Store

to the second floor duplex on W Main, the one with the restored wood floors

the only life in that place, their slow-wandering bodies across window panes

only to drop and die on the floor that landlord was so proud of

pilgrims, searching, wandering and weeping, I used to think

though I suppose, I have put enough distance between me and their mass graves

I’d make out of beer bottle caps

I should call them what they are: stinkbugs

.

This is how it went:

that wasp grew so old, it twitched in circles on my parents’ fake wood floor

twitched until I scraped it into the flames of the fire heating my father’s house

but I know the difference between sacrificing to save and sacrificing to lose

and that wasp was saved

.

This is how it went:

the wedding venue, my mother drove us to on a Monday afternoon

the one buried in the heart of the service area I’ve served for years

the one where I told my mother I bet I know someone who knows the family running the place

the one with the big red barn, the vibrant grass—so green, the landscape glowed even in misty rain

that venue, where the woman opened the side door to let us in, and I turned, holding the door 

looking back at you, I noticed something sticking to the corner of the trim, just below the locking mechanism

I noticed, stitched into the wall, like it had been waiting for us, a sign

and I could have ended the tour right then, told the woman I’d seen all I needed 

though we had only just stepped out of the rain and through the threshold

I had seen all I needed

.

This is how it went:

my father, standing by the flowerbed in the front yard, humidity making my skin oily

and you, your black curls folding into themselves like the sproutlings we found in the woods

like all the other things, so alive, blooming so that even a death was not felt as a loss

there the three of us stood, and I know my father was talking about your new job

but

but you didn’t grow up with him, don’t know that when he said these words, his eyes were locked on mine

don’t know that when he said these words, in response to your new job, he looked at me 

those words said something differently:

“Funny how you find what you’re looking for when you aren’t looking”

each syllable seemed to seal the two of us in a separate place, 

a place where father and daughter may only go

the rest of our conversation went unspoken

while you chattered and he answered and I stood in the heat, a little stunned

I wanted to tell my father about the sign, the black body and white dot smack in the middle of its abdomen

the sign, the one that’s been appearing over and over again since that hot afternoon in the field

counting spiders and plant hoppers and anything else that crawled, recording in lab books

I wanted to tell my father about its presence at the venue tour

but I suppose I’m old enough now to know signs go without saying, 

unspoken, held-close-to-the-heart things

I should call those signs by their names anyway: bold jumpers

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