by Claire Scott

counting steps
redoing steps
has to be even
start over if nine
has to be even
back to the beginning
if eleven at the elm
tree, the stop sign,
the sidewalk crack
has to be even
stutter stepping
down the street
a ten minute walk
turns thirty, forty
delaying knocking
with a mittened fist
braced for a mother
once removed
from a child
standing at the door.

when all is even
no stutter steps needed
I stop before a house lit from within
a family at supper, faces smiling, food steaming
I slip inside
heap my plate with shepherd’s pie & tell of
Susie who snickered at
my mud-stained dress
Sean who stole my mayonnaise
Austin who smiled at me
for the first time.

sharing with a family at least
once removed from
the anthropologist standing
at the window.