My grandfather says crown, meaning
crayon. It doesn’t rest heavy and glorious
atop my head; it falls clunky and embarrassing
from between the lips, lands on gravel
drives. I don’t care. Al is the man with the body
shop down the street but also the bird
perched in the tree above the house I grew
up in, like hal is the call of the coyotes
at night, tickling your spine as you lie
awake. You know the sound I mean,
even if you name it with a different curve
of your tongue, a different flick.
I know how to keep my lips pursed,
my tens from ringing like tin. I know how
to save grease from bacon in an old jam jar
for cooking and how to shovel
hay-thick manure from barn stalls,
ignore my blistering palms. When I say last
or fast, I can keep it to one pure syllable,
splitting only myself, this piece and that.
I know how to choose.