I shove the couch away from the wall
to clean out what’s collected there—
and the walnut glows like a knob of kryptonite,
brings me to my knees amidst the dust balls.
The memory’s all sucker-punch: the glint of nutpicks,
the hard shells of hazelnuts, pecans, filberts, walnuts
rapping their knuckles against the sides
of that special bowl you saved for Christmas parties.
To impress me, you’d crack a pair inside your fist,
offer me the treasure of those shards and innards.
Defeated here, years later, on my knees, the bitter tannin
of nutmeats ambushes me. How long
since I cleaned under here? Has it been five years
since the tumor’s tight fist slowly unfolded inside you?
Once, this dry brown knuckle was a seed. Inside it,
a tree waited. Now it’s dry, a desiccated mummy in a coffin.
It is the sharp taste of your absence, rattling its cage;
it is this lump blooming in my throat.