In Medias Res
At six months, the embryo
can hear, its eyes close
and open on the crease—
fingernails and hair.
We tape green swatches to the wall
and settle on a name
(though that, too, will change).
Dogs whine and claw the door.
Each day calls for rain.
We wonder: the face, the weight,
the size of his swaddled frame.
Standing on the curb at dusk,
I sweep my hand
through the mailbox built
in the shape of a birdhouse.
Among clover and chickweed,
it lies, slumped over,
a mound of feather breaking down
to jointed bone. Fireflies
hover through the empty field
in the absence of light and hunger—
without news or song.
A Letter Home
I got the box of books and found the pics
between the pages. Thanks. I see how hard
it must have been for you to be so far
from home. The view can take my mind off it—
the buds about to leaf, Big Horns capped
in ice. With bills to pay, we had no choice,
but it was tough waking up alone,
the boy asking where you’d gone. At least
I got to be with him. It rains a lot.
The creek will rise above the bank,
where grackles live in brush and bramble.
When I was young I’d venture in the woods
behind my father’s house, where cattails grew
in muck, and pines along the hill--for hours
walking there, oblivious to time. A path
leads from the drive across the un-mowed grass.
I like to hike along the edge. I found
a nest, and then a meadowlark (I saw
its yellow breast) cried out. When he got sick,
I let him sleep with me and bathed him in
the kitchen sink, where sunlight from
the window kept him warm. You know all this,
I know you know all this. Kiss his face
for me and pet the dog a bit each day.
When I get back, we’ll take them both
to Percy Warner Park. We’ll eat and swim.
At night, the wind could be the sea outside.
I come around and wonder where I am.
When I spin, our son laughs louder, his weight
growing in my arms, and the window streaks
across my field of view, so it becomes indistinct
from the vase on the table, also full of light.
The lilies’ stems vanish, so the blossoms seem
to float in air. As we slow, the room finds itself
once more, and you, against the door, laughing, too.
The night your father died, you told me how
he saved your life, twice dunking your fevered body
in a tub of ice, and we lay still in the quiet dark.
When I stop, our son’s voice, the spirit, the impulse
toward joy, fills the room, but you are far away again.
Dizzy, breathless, we walk to you as if to cross
the great deck of a ship at sea—stumble, sway, tip.
The horse bends to what’s fallen, the branch
lifting, as fowl fly overhead
to the thing they’ve waited for
among reeds, all winter, and dragonflies.
The horse fattens on what it’s been
denied these months, watching buds
flower and wilt, the apple swell
beyond its capacity for fullness, the stem’s
small knot. Why long for what will soon
be gone if there is no happiness
like the one passing now?
Moths flutter near the mare’s mouth,
so the air about her face blooms
briefly with small, white blossoms.