9636 Wilson Road

March 15, 2018

The wind snapped the Sugar Maple in two the morning I left,

silencing branches that scratched

my bedroom window for three years, quartered close.

The first day, I wrote my name in the closet and called the place

home, the word sticky on my tongue. It was the second

white house, second blue bedroom with cracked


walls and someone else’s scent. The third night, my sister cracked

her knuckles and played music too loudly. Mom pushed left-

over new-church casserole into plastic containers and second

guessed the kitchen cupboards. Dad hunched between boxes and scratched

out his first-Sunday sermon, Bible verses as place

holders. I laid puzzle pieces end over end, ocean splotches and close-


knit sand grains on the yellow carpet, tucked close

to a box marked fragile and The Holy Bible, worn spine cracked

and peeling. Did Jesus ever feel out of place?

The fifth night, I tattooed here on my left

wrist with a shard of broken picture frame; scratched

my name over the radial artery, a question mark above my second


knuckle. The sixth day brought a church welcome line and second

hand compliments, folded between pocketbooks and close

minded hymnals. Old women who smelled of cough drops scratched

my dress sleeve with cherry nails. I showed teeth and examined the cracked

Virgin Mary in stained glass. She had been left

behind too, her place


always next to the manger. The twenty-eighth night I lost my place

on the pages of Neruda and stopped counting days. I counted ticks of the second

hand instead, slept wrist to ear with my metronome lullaby. I left

origami cranes in library books, cafes, the jacket pocket of a woman tucking her baby close,

shivering against the icy day. At night I cracked

open my bedroom window and listened to the wind sigh. I scratched


a leaving letter on the closet door with permanent marker, black. Branches scratched

the window and I wrote apologies on post-its, hid them under place

mat corners, smoothing them over the scarred table, lined and cracked

from decades of dinners. I tried the front door twice. The second

time the knob gave, and I closed

it behind me, walked the sidewalk to the street, turned left


at the stoplight blinking Morse code. The wind snapped wires and trees the morning I left,

shook angry branches and scratched my ears. Shutters held their houses close. 


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