Browsing through brochures
In the neurologist’s waiting room
Brings to mind my scattered and long
Deployed network of cousins
There is something beyond blood
Beyond hazy memories of Sunday afternoons
Soda crackers, an industrial-strength retailer
Named for the first vowel of the alphabet
And a west valley housing tract long since usurped
By block after block of small office buildings
Made quiet by lay-offs, loss-leaders
And drive-bys driven to distraction

As I anticipate the shape
And significance of the nerve
Conduction test I am about to undergo
In an effort to determine
Where I feel cold
Where I feel sharp
Where I feel nothing at all
And where it all goes once
My annual deductible has been met
I long for peace

We remain lost descendants
Of large wing-and-a-prayer families
Cursed by ignorance and good fortune
Packed up and pushed to the westernmost edge
Of the continent to build airplanes
Sell linoleum, hang wall paper, melt metal
And break hearts too numerous to mention
Revising our movietone list of might-have-beens
With each new mile of freshly paved asphalt
Nailing those coulda-shoulda-wouldas
To every bright white picket fence we saw
Evaluating our choices and our fears
According to hypothetical assumptions
The buffalo, the Iroquois and their own
Deciduous forebearers were never asked
To make



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