Lifting a forkful of the apple crisp,
warm and crumbling on the dish between us,
I asked what it takes to be consistent. Slowly,
stretching back through memory like an old pitcher
reviewing his full motion, you told of your mother’s
insistence that you were bad at lying,
that the window of your voice would crack
and something in your eyes detach.
And of later, when you were young and married,
how you gently touched your wife’s bedsores—
the ragged manuscript of her MS—
and juggled the steady downpour
of graduate work late into the night. Circles
around your heart that kept trying to pull apart.