If I could return, it would be with a quiet swagger.
Old-fashioned, a little crazy, but sturdy to a fault.

I’d follow only paved roads, long for the forest
and swallow love’s peril. I’d forgive the way
you pick at your fingernails until they bleed.

The soapy smell of you would be enough; that tender part
on the crown of your head; the verse tattooed at your nape:
the Sanskrit words spelling, this one you cannot take from me.

Maybe when I return, we won’t require authorization.
We will become impervious to the glares, and ghosts,
the toothy politicians who sneer our names
like a diagnosis. We won’t need taxidermy or lures.

Travel will be breezy and slow; we’ll share a suitcase.
I won’t yell so much, and you won’t drop the eggs.

Once you tucked in your chin and kissed my neck
until it bled. The winds were rough, the sea close;
the tang of iodine. So many states are afraid of recognition.

We huddled in the sand, planned our escape.
No election, no fire, no brother could foresee
the worst happening. (No hospital. No identification.)

Lead paint licked from the radiator. Mold rotted
the wooden staircase. Always something more
they want concealed. The tarot said Queen of Cups,

so we knew we had to skedaddle. We crossed a river,
fled to a foreign country for our wedding.
All your lovers folded napkins neatly, bid farewell.

Still, we pay separate taxes and no small measure of shame.
When I return, brick and mortar. Knitted booties,
quilts. Flags in the front yard and sharpened pencils.

Appliances, bone china, a honeymoon. I’ll come at once.
I’ll come at a run, with snacks. I’ll put my hands
between your legs and catch the slippery child emerging.

When I return, there will be no need for maleficence;
just our ringed hands, holding.