Cait Weiss

Before we know we are rich, we go to Poor
School. Concrete fields in a parking lot,
we are elementary planets, all, orbiting
a 7-11, its cheeseburgers the sun, their molten
yellow glaze.

Mom says,

            Vanderbilts can do better

than that.

The last time we drive there I am eight, Podge
is six. Mom takes us the back way by the train
tracks where no trains run, past the poorly lit
costume shop with Sexy Doctor-Nurse play
suits we Do Not

Touch. Adults

            Only. By this route, we pass

the best part—
a brown yard with an iron sculpture. Half-man
half-fowl, all nude. We name him Wiener Bird
& so I choose to care for him. His wings
extended, his chest rain-worn, my Bird has no
family. He has

no home,

            no Mom, no Podge, & every


drive I whisper, Here, you can have mine.

Mom tells me I know her better than anyone.
You are my soul mate, she whispers one night.
It is my job to keep this family safe. I hold
my breath

over train tracks.

            A social worker was sent

to my classroom

last week. You can tell me anything, honey,
about your parents.
Stranger, please.
I know my world, how to guard it. You do not
ever stand naked, wings spread, on the street.
Even clothed, it is unsafe to be anything
but iron.

I will never


how to hide.