Even then, we were cold.
Joseph knew it so he started a fire
in the basement after dinner, our whole
family watching The Godfather.
We are sailing from under the ship’s deck, the furnace room.
His head and eyelids bobbing as a needle with a thread,
stitching in the points of light—the eleven stars,
the sun and the moon. I have never dreamed of fire.
Then again I’m not a father, not so tired.
How can it be so warm and so dark in here?
I went outside to watch the real sky, flat and stiff, wrap
around us like a pit in the wilderness, the dark dirt.
Now we’re sailing through the thick of it,
before it shallows onto day,
and the real flames go to black velvet ashes.
Then the morning: upstairs my palms trailed
Joseph’s wife heaving, heavy
sleeping in a black velvet dress.
The room was empty—there was no water in it,
but what a thing that would be.
When she wakes, she leaves.
The air rushes around in cold circles somewhere else, everywhere else, and not here.