In the morning, in the dark,
I feel my way to the bathroom
at the other end of the house.
Cilantro and tomato sprout on the sill --
they need the wettest room.
Grandma, I dreamed about you last night,
you said I don't know
what happened to my garden.
There's always a murderer hiding in the tub,
a white hair growing long out of my belly,
always the mirror's sharp edges, always
a toilet flushing, angry. Grandma,
you'd choke on your own phlegm, lean
on the rim of the sink to spit,
name it *vickravatz*. A word like forearms
trembling on porcelain, my new bleeding,
each end of each month, already breasts
too big to go braless, ubiquitous.
Grandma, you said don't worry,
I gave up my one vice.
Well, then, why did I see
your fingers smoke and flinch
behind the planter out front. In my dream,
you sit in the living room, in the gray chair
where I hide notes to boys, the pin
I scratch my skin with, matches,
a champagne cork,
and even though I stand right
in front of you, you cannot hear me
when I ask: how do I transfer saplings
without breaking the roots
or roll the *kifli*, the cabbage leaves. Or remember
the toilet paper. A nightly pill. The egg
that needs to be beaten. Yes,
how close can I get when you
point the burning tip of your cigarette
at me. When all you say is Oh, you know,
the fifth child is always forgotten. Grandma,
why can I only remember your sad legs
crossed against gray cotton. Your ribcage.
The space between breaths, between
what you say and what I hear,
a word phlegmy in the back of my throat,
a butt, a match, hidden beneath
red gravel. My growing cough.
The train rocks me from sleep,
vibrates shrapnel, small mountains in my skin
I dream a metal wish, penny under tongue,
steel tracks tattooed on stone,
the shadows reaching for a sour breath
drawn from harmonica.
Heels against concrete,
their sharp tap across the doorframe means
I can't sleep through the night.
Instead I think of dirty water,
a ring of dirt around my ankle bone,
hair curled in soap scum, a footprint
black on the cabinet above the fridge,
how did it get there?
Again past my window, brass bells at my temples.
Honey, you've taken root
in my intestines, cast a palm frond shadow
to press against my bladder.
False tropics, my organs,
and orange blossoms: prints left
around the pigeon rotting to bone
on the sill. I can do nothing to stop the hungry ants.