Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Nail


Hammering the roof of our barn, our grandfather smoked

the sun in buttery rolls: “I know a gypsy who made soup

from a single nail.”


The red barn became a white house that became a lane

of shrinking boxes. Nails hum in the boxes. Our mom pours

the nails into bowls too hot to swallow

though you’re getting better. Your smile is a dead filly:

“It just takes practice.”


You crack our bedroom wall hanging

a picture of an actor on a bent nail. The picture laughs

over your record player. The other kids use CDs

but you like feeling old

and used like the skinny book about New York

whose pages are bird wings in your back pocket.


Your fingernails grow into hooks. I try not to breathe

on your scratches as they open into streams. Maybe

you’re fishing. Maybe my eyes aren’t burning

like the barn inside you, a horse galloping

over our carpet as hooves rain

like nails from the ceiling.


Your record spins

in ever-tightening circles, a gypsy singing:

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail


Every morning our mom sweeps

the nails from our carpet. She opens a box

and puts the nails inside. Then she opens another box

and waits.

At the bottom of the box

is a single nail.


She’s waiting for you

to step inside. She wants to make nail soup—

you soup—

me soup--

our house simmers on a low boil :

“Only a gypsy can make soup

from a nail.”

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