My infant son wakes in the night
to recite launch codes for a weapon
buried in a corn field.
Numbers, bits of verse, and silence
while he waits for the coded response
of a stuffed swan.
It’s a swan song, I think. My wife,
who cannot read my thoughts,
who is deeper asleep than oil,
says aloud, Stay away from swans.
Dangerous... I reach out, smooth
her hair. She settles back
into earth. I yawn and remember
I don’t have a wife and son. And
the swan has never been happy
with me. She glides in place
down the bed, her shadow
a stopped fuse.
Brendan Constantine’s work has appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, and other journals. His most recent collections are Dementia, My Darling (2016) from Red Hen Press and Bouncy Bounce (2018), a chapbook from Blue Horse Press. He teaches at the Windward School in Los Angeles.