For Katie

I wonder how it happened, the carbon monoxide.
Like an old man, maybe, his back bent from
carrying sugar bundles on his shoulders:
they piled up so high they rot-dissolved his spine
melted it like teeth in coke (the way they showed to us in grade school).
Or if not like him, then like the skin that wags around
the oven handles of his cheeks: a soft decay
that smells of cigar rolling papers, and tastes
sweet and rancid, the leather casing of too-old pears.
I can see it in this way, the gas, seeping in old and yellow, as if
the room is black and I need to filter it with age.
There is nothing young left there (even the ghost,
asleep on the couch, has slept by now a lifetime)
only crooked, mismatched etchings on the inside
of the kitchen doorframe, to carefully mark
the height of a girl who never grew past purple.