One Taught Me
Michael Lauchlan

One Taught Me

to explode from a three point
stance, another how to solder pipe
and how to show up for work—

early, undeterred by angst
or balky knees. Another
taught me to hang upside down

in a poem and make tired love
surprise even the addled. Such
forgotten extra parents—one

showed me how to sleep in snow,
a layer of newspaper under visqueen,
a canvas tarp over our bags.

Why I needed to know this
he never revealed. Our breath
puffed above us until heat

pumped from our hearts filled
an envelope of grace so two
humans could endure night.

One woman disclosed the secret
of casting a loud spell
over street corner combatants,

one wielding an ax.
Maybe everyone saw me
unravelling, needing help

learning how to drive, how
to find chords on a guitar
or Ursa major spinning in the sky

or how to change the head
on a Datsun and, later,
when all efforts failed,

how to junk it. Go on,
they seemed to chant,
more jazz soloists than

muddled Greek chorus,
all calling me toward
one morning, then another.

Michael Lauchlan

has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Harpur Palate, and Poetry Ireland. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press.