Rayne painted bricks onto the drywall
of her rented room in the basement,
then vines on the bricks, a city behind
that. When the washer and dryer
chattered and the water heater
hissed and groaned it sounded
like somewhere far off where she ended
up running to. We painted a lot
those days, footprints on the ceiling,
names and dates and sold the house
that way, gallons of paint in the garage
the original shade of each room
somewhere in the stacks. Look for
the drip-dried runs down the lip
of each sealed mouth. Break one open
with a hammer and chisel and
I'll bet it's still wet inside.
Whitewash everything and wonder
what we whitewashed to get here.
Cleaning out the attic, we found
a squirrel, hollow and flat and––
like a drum: the skin between
his mummified ribs and limbs.
I was six, no, seven. Our brother
held it aloft like a trophy, wanted
to make it talk, cracked its tail off
accidentally and we all felt cursed,
saw our pupils as black stones
at the bottom of every puddle.
In the basement the cat's foot-
prints were indelible in fresh
concrete, dried sharp enough
to snag socks or skin long
after the cat had died. I don't know
why we never fixed that. Maybe
the same reason we sold the house
without repaving the front walk
where our names and ages were.
They're gone too, without us
doing a thing about it.
There is always someone following you,
marring your footprints with their own.