When the World

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

shows us that it’s incapable
of mercy, we stay up all night
and practice how to be merciful

when it’s still ninety degrees
and the constant heat is
an assault no different than living

on the sun. By fall, when hurricane season recedes,
we’ll think we’re all right. We’ll notice
the death toll in Istanbul & Bangladesh & Baghdad

and think we’re fine. The world, allowing us
thirty-degree mornings, frost stiff
on the grass. We’ll pull bed sheets over

the palm trees, so they don’t die
from the cold, as a man shoots his wife
and leaves her body in the yard, a block

away, and we’ll know death isn’t half-
way across the world while we’re cleaning
the grout and filling up the car. Perhaps

the only mercy that matters
on this wild Gulf shore is when I ask
what you remember of snow, of digging

the car out of a ditch after we spun out
on a highway, slick with black ice,
and you respond with your hands

in my hair like wind that’s the same
everywhere. It’s what we don’t say
that makes us stay. When love isn’t

something done to us in the absence
of mercy, but the sun threading
the lanai after months of rain.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017