Tell me

everything— the child says. Meaning, every  
           story from the past, that drafty old mansion
whose damp corridors she never walked
            but whose general outline she glimpses
like a shape tissued in fog. Now it is
            a ruin, of course. Sometimes, at dinner
or driving somewhere in the car, parts
            surface— The alcove where I lay on a high 
bed,  sheets up to my neck; the sewing room
            where the mothers sat with pins in their mouths
and thimbles on their fingers. Rooms filled with 
           cigar smoke and trays of highball glasses, 
amber-colored liquid that burned my curious 
           throat when I crept out of my room to see 
what grownups did after I'd gone to bed. I know
           what she wants, because I want it too—
every keyhole through which I might 
           squint, every shade shielding the bulbs
that flickered a certain way in the corners;
           every broom closet a hiding place,  
every tiled bathroom wall against which a girl 
           could be thrust and made to press 
her outline. Every pull cord to flood
          these spaces with indelible light.    

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