Empty Lots

There was nothing
but hills of sand and stone
our wilderness we climbed
the Midwestern landscape
until mother screamed “Get down now,”
reminding us of the long scar on Daddy’s thigh.
He’d been King of the Hill
sliding down the dirt in Brooklyn
until a rusty wire
caught him by the muscle
and slit him open. Those kind of wires
run in a family; we were begging for scars.
Lucky for us Dad hadn’t mangled a finger
in a door or we might’ve been forced
to enter through windows or chimneys.
I’ve always tried to imagine the Roman soldiers’ faces
when they invaded the temple in Jerusalem
only to find that the Holy
of Holies, the inner sanctum,
was bare. I loved anything empty—
shipping crates, rooms
without furniture, notebooks filled with blank
paper, kingdoms all mine to dig through and discover.
No one warned me about the wires
embedded in the page, how one day I would be playing
with words and my life
would tearopen.

Cassandra Sagan Bell is a poet, teacher, singer songwriter, and mother of two grown children. She lives in Vancouver, Wash.