My mother once told me,
never let a man wear his boots 

in your house, he’ll turn it into a goddamn barn.
She had no idea

how long a body withstands another
body, its sick

orchards and stray cats, stale breath
of tobacco and cider mash.

I've seen a robin (you've heard the story) fly
into a windowpane only to revive

in the sweat of my palm. I see horses
kissed by flame, flee

a burning stable and keep going. This broken language
in the rafters, the apples charred

to their cores, the years it takes
a man to assemble himself

inside a bottle—He must have passed out
smoking in the hay. This is how it goes,

this is how the cats acknowledge
my backsteps and kerosene: disappearing

into rows of trees crowned
with smoke and forgetting.