Variables of Cancer

I remember thinking
her husband
was like one of those small yappie dogs
He was a pale, melting, boxy body
Shuffling to his car every morning
The buttons of his shirt
nearly bursting open

She was sometimes
A madonna
Other times
Sleepy, uncombed
Walking across her front yard
in pajamas and big glasses

Our backyards
were separated by a thin
brown picket fence
From the back terrace
I could see her
sunbathing on a lounge chair
Always alone

Legs longer than the Missouri river
To me, she seemed deeper
and more remote than any body of water
Often hidden
As though with a veil
by the sprinklers
that dusted with water their bushes

One day she was going
just twenty miles per hour
At three in the morning; drunk
And she hit a tree beside our house
with her front end
She emerged out of the smoke
Dancing and pointing towards me

My mother banished me to my room
And the rest of that spring
My neighbors were awful quiet
As though swept up by a trade wind
and planted in some other time

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