When you want to climb on the roof to clean the gutters, I feel drunk. I am too nervous to grip the ladder. Just two beers, and I am holding my breath. As you ascend, I want to pull you closer. The gutters of dandelions are too tough to pull out. Dirt clods drop on my head with the pigeon poop. I washed my hair to be pretty for you, so you might see me, haloed like before when we slow danced, but no, I am gripping the ladder, waiting for you to fall on my head and be dead.
Then, a grey, translucent spider dances down around my wrist for a scream. I can’t stop thinking of your uncle who fell from a ladder, was never the same, more gentle now with his brain damage. You move up real slow, not many times I have seen you scared. We grow older. Our six-year-old son calls into the present, the “the olden times.” He summons the truths of a small rock, tries to catch golden crowned finches. For a morning, he is very committed, but gives up at dinner.
Our daughter cries while smiling, high wire tiptoeing between Barbies and boys. I can’t see you and run the perimeter of the house looking up for you. Out by the basketball hoop, I finally gaze high enough and you are squatting behind the solar panels in blue athletic gear. You are defeated, unable to yank out the weeds in the gutters, fertilized by pigeon droppings. Their song is throaty and my daughter can imitate how their bodies hide music.
They nest over our bedroom. The children still sleep on the floor for safety, unaware of their parents’ intimacy. I can’t tell love from argument, from hum-drum-dream. You reach the new wasp nest, lacing up in an abandoned bird house. We are tender for it.
You’re climbing away from me, daring, darling to be drawn into some new redundancy, and I call out “we can pay for the gutters. It doesn’t matter now,” but wind steals it.
At sun’s descent, you’re crawling back to me on your hands and knees over the roof.
“Are you holding it?” “I’m holding it.” You come back down the ladder. I want your warm body in the blue sweat suit.
You come to me again, arrive backwards and tell me softly how high it looks from the other side. My stomach hurts with intent gravity. Off, on the side yard a yolky pigeon egg, scared off the ledge, makes a bold mark of existence on the tile, impossible to sweep up, sweet smelling yellow.