Great-uncle Crowell slapped my face
when my marble of spittle rolled down his vest:
I was perched on the sweet-apple bough
of my mother's knee; Crowell was hooked
like a thorn to a cushion of his settee
that stood in the shade of this apple tree.
When one is five, one is srprised
that grown-ups are capable of storms -
the mountainous thunder of Crowell's voice,
and lightning splintering the knotted
pupils of my mother's eyes.
my uncle, who had no place to go,
took cot and bowl and a soiled vest
and fled. He went to the barn to live.
"The final insult," my mother said.
But I thought of the drooling cows; thought
of the wind slapping the faceless trees.