Together, my family slept in the converted garage we could never call home.
There you returned as a murmur.
Whispered: wake up, the earth is staggering & somnambulant, the dogs are ambulance, wailing the ground’s
I was awake & shaking. My brother mouthing silence, as the concrete
cracked like old bones.
The world shook guttural— terremoto uttered from deep inside its diaphragm.
My father, a skeleton braided with tattooed muscle, spread his arms across the five of us (& you), a cross in a valley
in the shadow
of Los Angeles’ restless shoulders.
Beneath the roof of my father’s arms fear could not breathe long
enough to kindle.
I felt you there too— furtive & light, a caged jaguar stowed in my pulse edging in my chest, an eagle growling, its claws in my throat
& when the earth quaked
I quaked too— my skinny arms thrashing softly as if feathered ephemeral as if wrapped in plume as if the ground succumbing underneath meant we were airborne as if the Earth’s tilt had folded my back to the curve
of a wing.
My brother looked into my eyes
told me: we’re safe here,
I will hold you down.