all the things we let in
to the soft tissue of our bodies—
car alarms, pesticides, oxygen.
Some chosen; some forced:
nicotine, asbestos. Latitude of
learned habits and gestures—your hand’s
loose cursive clearly from your mother,
hunched right shoulder, a frontal range
of scar tissue and knots
from decades of schlepping grocery bags.
Elbow, a pingo, where memory surfaces:
your grandfather teaching you
to whack tennis balls against the garage
until your arm hurt,
and you had to stop. He’s dead now.
Cancer. Odds near 1:1
when you work at the mill that long.
He always said cities are built on our backs,
our shoulders, our necks. Each vertebrae
a dotted metropolis.
No wonder you’re tired. Some days
it’s all you can do to stand not weep
at the headlines; to take
the recycling out. To keep open,
let one more good thing in.