Dust Collector

I dreamt all your words were softer 
spit my teeth out on the table
& we count 107
woke up with sore ribs
in a bed of pine needles

I dreamt the dog was alive again 
& she told me everything I couldn't remember
about the days by hells hole
before the flowers had names 
& I fell off the path of the open heart.
She had fur white as snow in Cleveland, 
you'd lose her in it sometimes
when I bought cigarettes at the stop&save
& the bull thistle that grew along the tracks would snag my shirt
I didn't understand things like markets or roads or textbooks or gambling
'fore I met any of those I call family today.
Hours were not enough
to find the limits of maps,
let alone read them.
I learned to whistle by the stream
squat 'low a fell tree
singing along to the ever passing
& 'fore you go I have a question
these old men can't answer for me,
Have you seen my missing tooth
round here? swear
there was another

& one more
while I have you,
do you remember 
in the fall
when we'd chase deer 
but never wander
too close
to their den?
as the winter approached
the ground would become stiff & 
I'd tumble down a hillside,
we'd give up the hunt 
to return the next day. 
The older generation 
must be with you
wherever that is 
but the young have grown 
& they haunt 
our old grounds
they sleep
between collapsed walls

Lance used to wake me up
we'd try to put
his knee back in place
I never asked
what it was
that scared him