12 + 1 / by Siobhán Cronin

there was a calm before the storm

an afternoon that stretched out like a horizon

we were lying in bed and you read me a story, while the kids laughed in the neighbor’s backyard, and the birds preened on the telephone wires

I gave the weight of my body to your voice

this tired vessel

my book of fleshy memory

you and I met inside the house within the house

we watched the father’s fingers carve the secret latches and hidden levers

you traced a finger along the walls of my skin, and we listened from both sides of the canyon

time and pressure create layers of sediment, and the remains of hapless creatures remain interred unless the earth breaks and reveals what lies within

since the storm I have come to understand math

I can grasp the significance of 12 + 1, even while knowing it is not the same as 13

but on that day when the girl filled the bathtub with water, and my fingers ran through your hair, and I felt the softness of air and knew how to be happy

on that day we too found the solution to the puzzle

even with our eyes closed