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Each time he comes home, his face changes. He is an old man at her birth, a youth at her third birthday party, and a fifty-something when he walks her to her first day of kindergarten. She hears the adults mutter about how Clare’s mother can’t keep a husband longer than a year, and Clare can barely suppress her giggles. You don’t get it. All those men—they’re all one husband.
She tells her second-grade class, My daddy is in space . . .
The words for you were hidden in your fibers,
buried in your tissue, emblazoned instructions
on every cell membrane to jerk, shake, whirl, and beat
to a rhythm of your own making,
as if I were meant to dance while still . . .
At CVS, a woman toes the tape line
marking a safe six feet from where I stand.
She stares at me slantwise, suspicious,
and turns away when I meet her gaze . . .
Texas doesn’t know what to make of her.
Is she white or colored? Rice-paper skin
folds at the corners of her origami eyes,
black like her hair. Mexican? they guess . . .
No. Those rising tones, tense as a violin
note suspended on a string, died with my grandfather
when I was too young to remember his funeral
except for the juice box I drank from:
Juicy Juice, green apple . . .