Mother, tell us which way pine needles
point before a storm. Tell us
which patterns of snake we must run from,
which we can hold in our hands.
It was before the ant hills grew larger
than my grandmother’s fence post,
before the chinaberry saplings grew in the yard
& made the land valueless—
Before we learned how one self could fit
into another self, & all the reasons
we were never allowed to cross the street
behind the playground, I learned
that underneath our feet was possibility—
that forty years of derricks bobbing
the South Texas dirt may have missed us.
Stained men dug up the yard, forced
the cattle into long abandoned cages, & winter
began with the construction metal,
shining bright, & the gone trees discarded.
When they found oil in the neighbor’s soil,
we asked God why them, their three-story home
already built off in the woods while we
struggled to keep the siding from molding,
hosing it down twice every month.