Starlings • Robert Lietz

   Soles, and half-sizes, styles, carried like names
you knew by heart for decades, into
the indifference everywhere, and how you phoned
from that hotel, “in the neighborhood,” so
she responded one July, between ninth grade and ten,
when Mantle and Maris heated up the year
and your attention, sure as you were, fourteen,
you’d talk or never talk with her forever,
with so many miles, and so much shyness to make up for,
and soles, half-sizes, the power of speech
you’d just begun to feel, when she moved away for good,
for whatever that became, because the fuel
ran out, because you were sure it wasn’t starlings
she had asked you to remember, or anything,
you think, but an assuming gravity, bringing shapes
to worlds, when attractions changed, and
you were changed among the outfielders, the pols,
by the scenes in dog-eared monthlies,
in the dentist’s say, and in the barber’s “offices.” What
was it besides the soles, styles, the stories
you made, packed, carried with you into Bowling Green
and elsewhere through Ohio, that season
with such and such, birds you could never make stars of,
sent packing as you were, inured to both
the blame and its reporting, to the names you scratched
into a porcelain framed tablet, or the names
you heard in lines, but only her name, forever etched
on an old surface, erased how many times, that
you can see it afterwards, having arrived as migrants
Ohio blew around and dried for, coached
as you were to gardening, and schooled no less
by neighbors, by the sets they shared
and disks they tractored up a yard with, sleeping
along state routes, through
dreams you’d always meant to learn
   the orders of.