After the Burglary

After the Burglary – Rachel Deer-Katz

Today I found a squirrel head
.              ripped clean above the clavicle,
its neck a jagged edge of flesh,
.              fly-festered.
.                                         It stared at me
from my front porch, dead eye
.              fixed on a jilting, tilted axis.
I wondered, is this a reminder
.              of last summer?
.                                         Of paranoia
and of unlocked doors?
.              When I found dirt on the floor
that hadn’t been there before,
.              when I watched the Perseids
alone that August?
.                                      Was the glint
.              of them the same shine that clattered
off Perseus’s dagger, the same quick
.              wit and swish that cut Medusa’s
tender neck?
.                           Today, you held
.              my hand and told me: Stop finding
meaning in the mislaid remains
.              of some feral cat’s last meal.
Why search for serpents when
.              your skin is soft as chalk and neither
you nor I have yet to turn to stone?

II. Tonight you tried to make your mother’s
favorite soup and failed. I saw your hands

flash fluorescent orange, the split-second flicker
of a meteorite, when the packet of Sazón

opened in a cloud and I watched you hush
a string of curses over the bowl of carrots

and potatoes. I know what it must have felt like
when the onion juice trailed down the cutting

board to your cuticles, when you saw flames
thrashing the bottom of the pot. I’ve felt that

same hurried unease before too, urgent as
grease-licked heating coils in the stagnant air

of Tallahassee’s sluggish August. We used to be
the two who sprang from Medusa’s severed brain

stem, born of violation. Now, in the afterglow
of a grease fire, stars blown out, we are ambrosial.