Dover is 3 his hair like canary feathers.
   he puts his blue eye to the hole
   in the board fence between us.
   we stick out our tongues and touch.

Dover is 5 in a white suit.
   mine eyes dazzle I help him pee
   at my birthday party
   forsaking all others.

Dover is 7 we sit in the tree of heaven
   & hold each other like monkeys.
   gently he picks my scab.

Dover is 9 teaching me to drink vanilla.

Dover is 12 with a cellar clubroom.
   we play slapjack:
   my hand under his hand lies
   tingling.

Dover is 15 stealing his dad’s Melachrinos
   borrowing cars for nightrides
   & anatomy lessons.

Dover is 20 flunking out of Duke, drafted.
   we wrestle in dry leaves.
   my fiancé races his engine.

Dover is 24 back from Korea & married.
   his canary crest his fallen.
   we revisit the old clubroom.
   my husband is not amused.

Dover is 26 a father but the boy is dark.

Dover is 30 divorced & moved away
   his blue eyes veined with red
   his fingers trembling amber.

Dover is 35 & never a day older
   thin-haired in the stain box
   with a ruined liver
   & half a lung.

Dover whenever I smell vanilla
   your glazed blue eyes undo me
   your 9-year-old drunken laughter
   rocks my heart

Dover come back to my birthday party
   in your white suit
   back to the tree of heaven
   the hole in the fence

This Issue

March 21, 1996