The Instructional
It’s the last of the terminally ill,
my mother says, pulling down preserves.
I know what she means. She means
she’s relieved that our town will stop
disappearing for awhile, will hold 
at four hundred and ten (give or take). 
She means she’s anxious because losses
come in threes, and Charlie makes two. 
They can’t build on that land,
my mother says, preheating the oven.
I know which she means. She means
by the creek where it floods.
She means no makeshift house
can survive such waters. She means
those boys I used to run with
don’t know any better.
When are you coming home,
my mother asks, sliding the pie in.
I know what she’s asking. She’s asking 
did I hear that men are throwing 
stones at other men in celebration.
She means post-election in Palestine.
Do I remember how the hummingbirds
smashed and cracked into the kitchen window
until she took the feeder down 
and the murmurs of their wings 
were overwhelmed by other songs, by other birds.
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