The sun slants his hapless rays
through spiderwebbed glass,
and amid the hills of newspaper
rumpling up from the tablecloth
our tight-lipped mama unpacks a miracle
fresh from the S & H Green Stamps Store—
a glory of chrome and veneer,
five fat knobs, two speakers, a slot like a mouth.
Pity the ravaged radio
hunched beside this marvel.
Blinking in the soiled daylight,
our grandpop makes small
kind noises, though in truth
every machine he loves, tractor or Frigidaire,
is broken down and rusted out.
Behind him, in a chipped chair,
our granny slits a new packet of Luckies
with her long thumbnail
and erects a wall of smoke.
Like always, like always,
there’s just the two of us dropped at the altar—
you and me—magicked, rapt, enchanters.
How many rhymes have we sung
to the frog in the well? how many idols
suborned?—a slick wet calf born under moonlight,
the musty sweet smell of a grain bin,
road wind in our mouths and in our hair.
this is different.
This is the modern world.