She picks up her brush
to place it where
stars would awake
amid the downstairs clatter
of spoons dredging the bottoms
of cereal bowls,
Though still asleep
in allegiance to grace under clouds
swimming over the bedposts bearing
a rain of brass bands and animal farms,
she rises from her covers
and goes to the windows,
wonders what it is the birds sing about
when there's no family
left in the nest and a cold sun
blows their feathers in the opposing direction.
Her father shaves with the door open
and he's only a half Santa Clause today
as she walks down the hall,
her brother has both his shoes untied
and he's taking a hammer to his favorite plastic airplane.
Mother sits at the kitchen table
holding a cigarette in her left hand,
raised as if though holding a tray full of drinks
the other hand flat and
smoothing a newspaper page
and she frowns at a photograph
of men in overcoats and wide brim hats
saluting missiles and soldiers
who've all found the same dance step.
She says she wants pancakes
but her mother says
there is no flour anywhere
except in the garden
and no pans except the ones that
movie cameras make from
the top of every hill overlooking
a Grecian city next
to an impossibly blue bay.
Her mother laughs , an ash falls.
The room is full of smoky circles.
She helps herself
to the corn flakes
and the milk carton,
wonders why the coffee smells
like strange, bitter medicine.