You arrived without a chin. You
were wearing someone else’s eyes.
Tiny creature in a tar basket,
I wanted so bad for you to be mine.
That summer the river was almost blue,
the back stream teeming with fish.
For months I returned you dutifully
to the water where you lived. But
in August, the frogs finally chirruped
again – they croaked mineminemine.
I flashed hot with love. What was I
to do? I claimed you from the riverbed –
finder’s keepers – like a shiny dime.
In the home of your origin, in the valley
of a desert mountain, water ran only
if stolen and then in trickles. There were
no pipes or pickets, but fastened levers,
faucets built from scraps of stone, sparse
rainwater collected in metal buckets.
You were washed with the remnants.
Bits of dirt and afterbirth stuck to you
impossibly like glue. For weeks after
I’d plucked you up, I still found flecks
in your underarms, spots stuck between
the folds of your thighs. Each night
I washed you in our porcelain tub
as if scrubbing you clean could make