I come from a house on the Mad River Railroad,
child of a cloudy yard-bitten bottle and a spike my mother still drives

through each day’s fontanel, as she’s a believer in both the bay’s winter
ice color, what the bottle conserves, and also what breaks it.

If nothing else, I come from the boneclasped belief that family’s a country
you dig up or sink to, as when a plumbline drops into the bay

and catches on a fishwhispery Chevy. I too come from love spiked
with bad decision making, so when I fed the slow boy Johnny

purpling nubs from a shrub tangled behind our house with not a berry
too sweet and afterwards our mothers clattered together like hysterical pan lids,

my father suggested, or so the neighborhood heard it,
“Give Terri the car keys.” Because I come from ballbearing factories,

munitions plants, plexiglass plants and glacier-scraped corn country,
railroads offered the systematic mercy of crosshatching—a method even now

I both come from and leave by—via tracks webbing to Canada but with history’s
unnerving calibration somehow missing, like a grain elevator occasionally misses a silo,

Johnson’s Island, whose southern POW boys I come from too
when I imagine freezing, being hungry, and pining for my mother

in a grave that pushes up the wrong name like a crooked milk tooth
under the same astigmatic moon my 4F father will arrive by,

whistling and smoking, the systematic off-chance that lets me
climb into my own poison skin and spit this into your mouth.  end