Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Brad Johnson

Twin Buddha statues grin and grab
their fat bellies in our backyard
garden as the smell of lemons
ground in the garbage disposal
dances through the screen door
like the D.H. Lawrence of Detroit.

Every passing Ford grins
its father’s smiling grill, stares
with its mother’s headlight eyes
while a surprise symphony erupts
from our Cocker Spaniel’s snore.
Motor oil stains our driveway
in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.

It’s autumn already: the city
bankrupt, Tiger Stadium torn
down. Our invitations include
warnings now. Every year more
move away; fewer move in.
It’s hard to tell hovels from homes
in Highland Park where grandma
lived and her doctor dad made
house calls. Soon they’ll build
another casino along the river.

The neighbor’s Labrador licks
water from its porch bowl
as my fingers trace along your arm
like veins of rain trailing up
a highway windshield on I-75.
Even as we touch I’m nostalgic
for your skin as if the process
of touching is the first step
in letting go. There’s no deeper
than the deepest. Your goodnight
kiss is as syrupy as the raspberry
popsicle melting on the counter.

Our scars were inflicted, here,
in the kitchen and there’s a lesson
in the laundry: everything bleeds.