under the junkyard sky of this brittle-boned place, hope
cold windshield (or julytime) you there like a monk (never a monk, still)
while a thousand babyponies thought you could grow them manes like library scrolls.
listen. behind your puffup lips, you twinkled (your wrinkles).
in the truck this & that.
in the truck & old goat.
(another ha-ha lolita & the sexpart of your neck – really, an origami crane)
fuzzes out of a car, always is a car in scrapfield town:
ooh baby love, my baby love i need you, oh how i need you
when you smiled big: rows of black tulips where you should have had teeth.
oh my animal thief (loudly – my, my what weak), i’m grown.
bring me w/your grayish wiles, your dote & leave
& the dearlittles, the sweetest hums – tuck them into my cloak,
into this bright-okay as i make a bouquet
& safer, just to keep them safe.
that whim of rot all gussied-up
in guts, in guilt. our gasps, our gum-pop
jokes like what. not. we were lullabies
around that yard, that yard.
so bright & sweet, so brightly.
our faces were round, that kind of round, & full
we hadn’t yet buried this child (his tiniest head)
unnamed in the garden
behind the garden, stage left.
& our limbs – the buoyancy.of regularlife,
our hands, just balloons.
this is how it was. this is the absolute truth & bone of it.
how teenager & our teenaged shirts &/but ancient
in our inside sky.
there were maps & dogs & shadow plays
(small moons alive, velveteen: our fingers
curved for cup) & so many usual sadnesses:
not enough birds or brick, weathers.
sometimes when he’d sleep,
what worlds shook. we’d touch
his neck & before that globe say home.
in the walk-in, everything is honest
& stacked in clear, plastic tubs. you can think about a bath
of cold noodles or death.
they say, years ago, before i was here,
an old lady was eating soup at table twenty-six (by the window)
& then she just died quiet
& they found her still at closing.
on good days, when it smells like green beans here, i think of her like a lullaby
& our work, our good work, is wholesome.
in the walk-in it smells young like all the things you haven’t done yet.
the guy at table sixteen calls himself a regular, but everyone here eye rolls.
he calls you by name & says it a lot. the consonants ping-pong on his teeth & the vowels
are swear words he likes saying.
one time he told shaya to call him uncle eddie, but his credit card says sam.
in the walk-in, your arms cross in front of you for fake winter.
you can sometimes sit on an empty, upside-down tofu bucket.
this whole place is an animal
& here in the walk-in, you are crouched safely in its white, panicked lung.
uncle e-thing always wants tepid water with a lemon wedge.
once, i forgot about the ice.
i brought him ice & he shouted & waved his hands a bunch
for emphasis. i was scared he didn’t like me & that any second he’d demand shaya
& my face burnt & suddenly i wanted to show him a boob.
in the walk-in, it’s like stagedeath in someone’s arms,
that booming tenor showtune. because sung-to is more comforting
than being the singer for obvious reasons.
you have to cut a whole lemon if it’s lunch and the bar isn’t open yet
& if the bar is open they get mad at you for stealing their lemons. i mean,
it’s just a lemon. you can handle a lemon & the bar really doesn’t care.
it’s just uncle blah-blah & how you’ve already given up
just to say his name & eddie-sam likes that & that one time, how you were.
it makes you blush to think of it so you just shut up & don’t.
in movies, that moment before a buck gets shot & either lives or dies
depending on the storyline.
how its face turns to the gun & hush.
you are crouching in its lung.
Kristin Hatch's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bat City Review, Black Warrior Review, Cranky, Fence, Forklift, Ohio, The Madison Review, Phoebe, Shampoo and Quarterly West. She lives in San Francisco with Luke and enjoys fog, cooking for nice people, the color orange and rolling like a ball in pilates class.