The elevator opens on the 19th floor
to a room full of hay, bleating sheep and goats,
a loose rooster looking for grain.
Through the windows we see the bright Palisades
and in the haze the midtown towers.
This must be the only farm in Manhattan.
My brother heads to a tank of sea slugs,
little puddings from the coast. He grabs
a conditioned one, shucks its body, splays
its nervous system on his rig. The oscilloscope
shows neurons firing. As he explains how serotonin
enhances transmitter release, my mind drifts
to the way I spent tenth grade chemistry
looking at the back of Nancy Daffodil’s legs.
Could that have been her name? My memories
are a mess, but my inward eye can still see
the orangey freckles on her calves. Meanwhile
my brother was in our basement
building carbon arcs and cloud chambers.
Now stroking his red beard, he explains how
mnemonic traces are formed through facilitation.
Daffodil? Nobody’s named Daffodil. I wonder
who’s in our house now. The basement was
where our alcoholic father slept after
our parents fought. Some memories
don’t want recalling. That’s why, I guess,
I keep poking at the pain.
is Professor Emeritus at the University of South Florida. Winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, he published a book of poems, The Domestic Life, with the University of Pittsburgh Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Tri-Quarterly, Poet Lore, and many other journals. He has lived in Norway, Myanmar, Tanzania, and Poland where he taught as a Fulbright Professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow.