I wrote a poem
to you and pinned it

to your door.
I wrote a rainbow

I wrote a skylark
I wrote a dozen

other birds I’ve
only heard of

never seen.
I wrote in couplets

because I wanted
to see someone

walk over the horizon
and I wanted

it to be
someone other

than myself
in a cable knit sweater

dragging my fingers
through the splintered dawn.

On each finger
a man I want to bend

into the wind.


When we finished drinking
We listened to REM

I painted
The kids’ toenails

In another state
People died in a number

We knew was coming

For us
The days piled up

We ordered
A swingset

When the playgrounds
Closed we ordered

A toy baby bottle
We cradled

The babies
In our arms

I tried to hide
The tears

I choked out
In the bathroom

And all the birds
The birds

The cardinals
And blue jays

And eagles
That came flying

Out of hiding
I guess

I pictured
Our babies

In glitter
In sunlight

In caskets
Held as flowers

In baskets
As Moses

Sent down
The Nile

By his mother

At the river’s edge

Live, live

Ok, Kids

Mom and dad
had 10 kids begins

the book. Each day
begins the same.

The kids got in
a big bag.

The big bag
had a rip in it.

My son reads
along. The kids slip

out the rip. OK, kids,
say Mom and Dad,

time for bed.
In the next book

a cat slips
in the mud.

Ann puts the cat
in the bath.

The cat gets mad.
The cat gets

in the bag.
The cat is wild.

The wild cat
rips the bag.

Mom and Dad
say, OK, kids,

time for bed.
Ann is a wild cat

she cuts the mud.
Watch me,

says my son,
watch me lift the books.

Now Muff and Ruff
have a rag rug.

Matt sits on a hat.
Mag has a bag.

Dot has 10 toes.
In the cemetery

behind our house
a backhoe digs

another grave.
The cat slips

in the mud.
Ann falls

and the cat
is mad. OK, kids,

say Mom and Dad,
Time for bed.

My son lifts the books
above his head

and spins.
A rabbit hop hops.

In the cemetery
behind my house

a backhoe digs
another grave

like it’s a Dickinson poem
like it’s an empty

cradle in Dickinson’s home.
Ok, kids, say Mom and Dad.

My son spins.
Every day

is like this.

REBECCA LEHMANN is the author of the poetry collections Ringer (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019) and Between the Crackups (Salt, 2011). Her poetry has been published in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review and other journals, and featured on The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith, The Academy of American Poets' Poem a Day project, and the New York Public Library's Poem in Your Pocket program. She lives in Indiana.