but I love my baby as much as I love
my lover, the way he frowns when a little milk
flows into his sucking kiss. My husband
I love more than my father,
who once shaved my head for loving
Darren, a black boy, in the field
behind the barn.
If I could, like a dog, save all my love for just one thing,
what would it be?
Not a baby, not a man. Something steel
and gray and shaped like a train
or a bullet or a long-necked bottle
for me to stare at or sit on
or throw across this stretch of tumbleweeds
like a faithful boomerang.
And would it matter if I could sift the truth
from the rye? This is my best dress
and I wear it when I sweep
the bees and oleander buds from the breezeway.
I wear it when I’m on my knees cleaning up
the egg yolk, the syrup, the spilled coffee.
I take it off before my husband comes home
because this dress is just for me—
and now y’all have seen me in it.
I’m tired of your questions, I’m tired
of my window facing my neighbor’s door
and seeing mourners with their casseroles
Truth is born in circles and dies before it can
be held, like a baby too pure for this world.
You all want to know what happened, but you have to wait until
the next stone gets dropped. And when the future
becomes the now, you’ll be back here,
on my porch, asking what happened again,
trying to pick the flame and turnip moths
from the shifting grain.
L. I. Henley won the 2017 Perugia Press Prize for Starshine Road, her second full-length collection. She is the recipient of The Academy of American Poets University Award, The Duckabush Prize in Poetry, and The Orange Monkey Poetry Prize.