What I remember about the cornfields
is their smell, how I knew I was home
when their sulfur smoked into my nose.
The rock I dug from the fields, I palmed
in my dirty hand, spun it through the air,
purpling my sister’s jaw. She ran. I hid
behind the open front door, hushed
there for hours, pretending not to hear
my father’s shouts jangling the door
frame. When I did sneak out & peek
from the window, my mother was waving
her hands at the police. Strangers
were hollering my name in the streets.
I inched back behind the door, hundreds
of chemical punishments crop-dusting
through my skull. I admit I did hear
when my mother wailed into the phone,
pacing right by me: He must be in the fields.
I watched dusk eat the sky, watched
the cornfields shuck the neighbors out
empty-handed. From the door’s slight
crack, I watched my mother come inside
& slump against my father’s chest,
watched as he held her with one hand,
easing the door shut with the other.
Maybe I would do it all over again
just to study how her face muddled,
watch how it split & split & split again
as she yanked my arm into a hug,
wrenching a tight handful of my hair.
You stupid boy, she hissed. Stupid,
stupid boy, kissing every inch of my face.