first came to her when they were fighting.
Their whispers made her feel
like she’d put her ear to a seashell.
They told her her father swallowed his anger.
They danced like little fireflies around him,
swirled inside his undertow of loneliness,
swam in his beer, made fun of the white heron
poses, he learned as a boy, in a kitchen
where there was never enough to eat.
She watched them hover like hummingbirds
as they buzzed her mother's fork,
oozed out of her sandwiches, as she took her
giant bites. When Mommy sat quiet, they gathered
in her hair, stirring up the racket of memory,
with its abuses, desertions, hard work that made her
disappear into cooking pots, and gourmet magazines.
The little girl watched the two of them
tangle with one another in despair.
The angels multiplied then, their faces
becoming her parents' faces in miniature.
Put us in your hope chest, they said
when she was eight years old.
Someday you'll open it,
and we'll have grown like dumplings,
or steamy loaves of bread.
No head of a pin for us, babe.
We’ll keep you fidgety company.
Just fire up those cravings.
In her innocence she welcomed them,
glad to be included, not knowing
how else the story might have gone.