we grew nails from a rusted bush in the yard.
shook it with one gloved hand to watch
sharp nails of all sizes clatter to the ground.
in the basement, my father was
a hammer &, on bad days, a wrench
or a broom handle. we brought him bowls
of nails & whatever bolts we could dig
from the wet post-down pour dirt.
put our ear to the door to tell if he
was sleeping or working. the constant pounding
of his face against a project. he built
cupboards & clocks & catastrophes &
cirus podiums & once a series a doll houses
my brothers & i take turns living in.
often, i wish i was small so i could
fit my whole life in there. instead, i stand
in doll houses that only reach my calves.
there is one a little larger that reaches
up to my waist. i try all the time
to fold myself in half.
from where i stand the stairwell.
i hear my uncle, the table saw,
whirling & clawing at wood.
i'm scared of all the men in my family.
rehearse over & over how to ask my uncle
to sever me clean in two. he often cuts
what my father makes. a little machine,
the two of them. assembling then
pairing down. how many times could i
be halved before i'm nothing?
i'm worried i'll become addicted
to lessening if i try it once.
so, i stay upstairs where my mother
uses her skull to stir a pot of broth.
in my nightmares i become a 1/2 size hammer
& i sit right beside my father.
smack & smack until i'm toothless
& metal. i wake & wash my face
in the bathroom. early morning before
even my father has awakened.
i go down to the basement to see
the silent materials. just wood
& nails & a work bench. feel thankful
it is briefly so silent & wonder if there
might be a hammer lurking inside me waiting
to demand substance & structure
& sons. i walk back upstairs.
shut the basement door & go to
the attic to pace between doll houses
until i find one to nestle in.
the sun is a fire alarm & i hear my father
tumble down the stairs.