The neighbor off to the market for bags of salad
leaves me alone with her baby monitor
I’ve set on my balcony jagged with wood
rain-rotted & scarred with yellow paint.
What mislaid dinner plan would warrant
leaving one’s baby in the crackling static
hands of a woman who perches on her balcony
nightly in nothing but stars & the oven
of July, pink as the innards of poultry—
I never owned a baby monitor. Could never
leave my babies long enough to need one.
Her baby sleeps for hours
the mother tells me. Only call 911
if the house is burning. The baby balls
her fists, pulls the blanket over her head.
The monitor goes black & I click an eye-
shaped button. I haven’t seen her melon head
in minutes. The blanket seems too thick.
It’s a burden—all this watching, this distance.
A cloth-draped chair, a vacuum, appear to me
as ghosts hovering over the baby. How long
would it take me to climb the brick
separating our yards? A light flashes. A blur.
If I were a machine I’d make babies every year,
one shining & unbroken thing a piece.
Who knows what happens next.
What smothers or burns.