When it is already after seven
and in the lit pantry all she can do is study your countenance
not catch it

when the walls are too thick to trace the stud
so you plow another ashy hole into the plaster

when you have no stomach for the lentils
warm on the stove
or for the dough worked through her fingers
no eyes for the tattoo that curves
blue along her back

when you are too far gone trying
to ride the elephants of your day
and she tugs you elsewhere
for a crisp walk up Thomas Blvd

presses her thumb
beneath your nose
__________“It’s lemon balm.
__________We could make salve this winter.”

and when you are without humor
when her daily acts of improvisation are sudden erotic enjambments
the oak door you’ve locked yourself outside of

when you are standing on the doorstep, loose-limbed and losing
and you have forgotten
how to enter again, and all you can parse is:

__________lemon balm, lemon balm, lemon balm

and she must tie each arm back with a silk scarf
tightly a knot for each wrist

then you will slide back into blood
you will slide back home.

You always slide back home.

Jenny Johnson