Gianne Perugino brushed his daughters tangled hair
so roughly her eyes welled up with tears. Then
he kissed her eyes and pushed her out the door to play.
Gianne laid bricks that day, the way he had for years,
with cracked clay-hands moving automatically, almost magically,
and he slung the bricks with perfect rhythm—until he was called home.
Gianne saw a crowd gathering as he arrived—
and he saw the pieces of his life scattered
in the intersection, just past the stop sign.
His little girl lay in the street, here and there—
She was struck by a Venice Brand Milk Truck
that sucked her into the wheel well and then spit her out.
Gianne gathered his daughter into a little red pile,
In the way only a brick layer could—
and she filled his clay-arms like cord-wood.
He sat in the street rocking and singing
a broken song no one could understand
while the police drank coffee and looked on.
A man from the milk factory scowled,
How long will we allow this trouler to rock?
My truck is covered in blood and the milk will clot!
And the police said, we’re paid by the hour—
and when the sun went down they turned on their headlights
and took turns keeping the curious crowd quite.
Until Gianne eventually stopped singing,
and the firemen, with their red hoses, rinsed the street,
and a pale procession piled flowers by his mailbox.
After that day, nobody asked whose fault it was,
or what song he sang, or whether the milk spoiled—
and when people saw Gianne they stepped away from the curb.
He never went back to laying bricks. He never drank milk again,
or sang again, or cried again. Gianne spent the rest of his
life as a horse groomer, gently stroking their tangled hair.