Sort, like an abacus, 
your broken pearls 
from her ruined shells. 
It’s so hard to tell them apart. 

Place into manageable piles 
his inherited contradictions 
and her inherent unease, 

the things that kept you, 
for all of your young years, 
suspended in a hammock 
of distress, swinging 
between their trees. 

Divide the pros of his leaving 
by the cons of his staying, 
never forgetting the ratio 
of desertion to eviction, 

or the infinite amount of peace 
brought on by his absence. 

Still, worry touches everything. 

But there is no universal formula, 
no order of operations to apply, 
working left to right, brackets 
for stability. No safe equation 
to reason out the family data. 

Subtract the years 
she was vacant, barely breathing, 
from the ones you forfeited 
trying to revive the wrong body.