I spent the longest timetrying to find you,the vague woman in a houseroaring with a man's need.
I searched old photographs --in your anxious hands,that nub of womb-fresh lifeis me, your face stillfarm-fresh, warm as an egg.
The smallest thirteenth childlost at the back of a familyhating cows.
I remember your mother's house,the root cellar yawning.When you ran home that timeshe spoke of made bedsand sent you packing.
Life was the threatyou learned from brothers,hands as big as shovels.You looked for the strong manwho came from the skyin a World War II movieto fold his body over youlike a cape.
It took me years to seethe still-born thingyou had buried.
It surfaced once.
On my marriage nightyou broke your code and cried:"Don't leave me."
I hid those words for yearsknowing we too dug hands like shovelsinto your life.