As Stevie’s captor sets up
shop to sell bibles or broken
TVs, his real dad stops
fishing at the lake and camping
with his kids near Bear Creek Bay.
The target moves whenever
a lawful neighbor smokes out
Kenneth Eugene Parnell.
Who can say what a boy hides
between stones in his pockets.
The barred owl’s baritone gives way
to the tiny engine of morning cicadas
in Del’s village of grieving, waking
his rooms truer than steamed coffee
filtering the black and white photograph
of his boy in Wranglers and cowboy boots
outside of Charles Wright Elementary.
Door of an ear against a cool sheet.
There might as well be asters in his
feet. How long? What is soon
but a country with open borders:
impossible to know who will pass through.
Or when. For now, a cardinal trills life-life.
Soon the wind through honeysuckle,
hornets shying outside their paper nests
next to a ladder set out since yesterday’s rain.