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Victoria Else

When It Started

While he married, while one of us born,
while he ate tomato soup with cheese,
or read a mystery, yelled at the news.
Maybe the sixth one he had, when he was ten-
hot tar tickling his pink baby lungs-
or at eighteen, alone on some dock in Japan,
because he couldn't say, "can I come too?"
or at forty-four, a week before the lump:
plants in his lungs, jumps into his blood
rides straight to his brain and pushes over
what talks, walks, remembers who loves him-
Except he never figured out who loved him
or saw the smoke shoot from his mouth when he said
I love you, and wrapped us up like ghosts.

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