huddling under the covers and knowing
that if an elbow or toe peeked out,
whatever passing gods there were
would steal it before midnight. Turn my fingers
into someone else’s. Only third grade, and I knew
I owed them more than modesty. Respect.
The way you don’t look right at the sun
and the way you don’t slap your mother back.
Even now, the little rituals. Apologizing to an ant
after I bounced a basketball right through
its shell. Touching the bottom of the pool
with both hands. As we grow, we forget
how little keeps the world in check.
A misplaced touch or a bad thought is not worth
what it might bring. Not cracked spines,
but the tiny piece of you that spirits claim before dawn.
The fingers that you do not recognize.
If you, in the dark of childhood, let your limbs peek
once from under the covers, you may never know
how many gods wore your hands in the twilight.