17

by Emma Danes

We thought it would be ours – shy-on
to the street, inadequate fence,
blind corners. We learned it by night –
its Braille of angles and doorways,
its patois of rattle and crack.

We dismantled the chimney stack,
offered up wiring and roof slates,
carpentry. We brought it a child.
It bristled with splinters and snagged
nails. We practised to be smaller.

It longed to be empty, tethered
behind the bus stop in the shade
of a constancy of trees. One
dawn we slipped out between the teeth
of the lock we’d fitted, arrived

where even cow parsley’s lighter –
a child’s hands feathered with flour.
Postmen and plumbers attend us.
In the park, no widowed swan guards
the bruise of her reflection.