in pinellas, among trees
palm and pine,
this man
who is not my grandfather,
yet to my youngest brother is,
makes conversation.
he tells me about his own
just over a month ago,
some incident at some bar.
he fidgets while i use the atm
and i too, am restless—
hoping there is enough inside
to cover it.

our approach reveals
the courthouse keeping a
low profile,
a building on the lam.
we arrive and his escape is also
a nod of the head
a wave of the hand
a promise to return,
if need be.

there are two structures here,
one for talking cures,
the other, old-fashioned,
outlined in barbed wire.

at the reception
a woman takes the cash—
it is a bucket
for my drowning mother—
she guarantees its return.
she is a thief.

while i wait
the television
caught between
spanish soap and
sesame street.

oh, to learn again the language
of fried donuts,
airplanes made of feet,
and you
happy for a while.

there was the day
when you gave me money
for lunch and
i walked across the madeira
to order the biggest meal
at mcdonald’s,
spilled my drink
on the floor.
a woman dried my face
with a napkin,
let the same towel drop
and gather the mess
like old, wet cinnamon.

i came back
and saw my brothers
tied to chairs with ropes
as thick as my thumbs
in a too-large house
that we could not afford,
by the water.

during the eighth hour
the receptionist walks
to where i sit
and says there’s an
by which the state of
florida may hold
the mentally ill
for their own protection.
your mother has been
baker acted.

she suggests that i go

would that they keep you forever.

did you know what you
were doing
when you left
your youngest on
a doorstep
whose numbers hung
on its front,
and drove into the
balmy night?

probably not.

i did not free you
that week before
moving to the east;
i walked the strand,
red with residue from
the tide
and could not touch the sea.