Do you know how some houses
where you've spent years as child
have shapes you keep on seeing?
So many of my dreams still happen there.
In the big attic we would lie on cots.
Miss Staples read Kidnapped again and again,
but I didn't mind because I never heard it all.
When rain fell on the slates,
dripping onto window sills, I'd doze.
She had a steady, quiet voice
I think of sometimes when I'm trying to sleep.
There was a boy named Nicky, hulking in his walk
and always poking a cheek with his tongue
or chewing on it when he worked at math.
We never knew how old he was.
He'd hurt himself when young,
fell off a bike, and he wasn't dumb,
but his head worked poorly in some ways.
He loved recess and being it and showing
how fast and far he could run.
He'd take the small ones and make them all join hands
around the maple stump, and then he'd dance.
Oh, it was beautiful, though I didn't know it then,
like the house before it burned.
He was much bigger than us all,
bent double with one of our hands in each of his,
singing as we circled
then fell down.