When I remember my mother happy
I go back to her emerging from brambles,
a loaded bucket keeping her from dancing.
How she’d get into it, thumbs and fingers
purpled from berries that also stained
the cutoff milk jug she carried. Handing me
a used ice cream tub, lugging their dark weight.
Some were sour, not ready for the trip.
But the big sweet ones in hot cobbler
with vanilla ice cream melting over an evening
at the bottom of summer. I'm getting ahead of her.
And her scratched shins and hands. Sweaty legs. Sneaking
over the old Battlefield where the best patches were
without competition. Picking half a day of illegal berries.
Dodging the park ranger, dropping in waist-high grass
when his truck would pass, lying belly-down on the stained
shirtfront she’d sometimes flipped up as a makeshift basket.
art by SARAH EISENLOHR
I hope I get the news late
when you die. That I live a while
more with the thought of you
alive. Maybe the paper misses it,
or you're missing for days
and for all we know, you might
return in a week from the woods
hungry and filthy, crawling with stories.
to whom or what or where
It’s been low tide
for a while, the beach
parched. Seagulls search
for salvation from starvation
and move on.
The sky is endless—
I cast my questions out to sea
and marvel at the whole, lonely
Read a flat magazine
Onward to interact.
As with all creatures the flow of my veins carries a measure of tears in the flat hand of night but in this light the daybreak wears the skin of my dreams and holds me, not without her own sadnesses but in this light she reveals a softer shade of blue, liquid orange spilling over and through me.
The moon in heat plays with mating foxes and when they call it a night she throws cinders mostly ashen juncos flinty titmouses pyrite chickadees and cardinal sparks, finches. Passions fall on this maiden dawn when gravity proves an earthly lust the lyric physics of desire, pinkish lingua on paper in ink, the weight of devotion on snow.
Canopies draw skylines then veins then a web then sutras stitch the thin waters of my eyes and the rest of me. Write bird-songs in the snow a thumb for a crow a pinky a chickadee frog-song in mud come spring. Be known by these woods one flesh among many make shadows with the same sun lay lyrics on the land.
While we sleep the earth rounds herself round having spun a morning verses slip into view. We wake on the curve – night trails into birdsong belly to dawn, saucering wanderers tuck and curl, mustering sun rolls over edges as pulls the westering moon, souls take the shape of daybreak bent in the middle and a little on the ends.
In-breaking wildness or other sort of poetic rupture makes a lesion some seek to heal (keep the savage at bay) but this stomate makes real the passage of breath. In this spring-fed belly blood-bound bone of bones gristle and grist the animal gush of our being gurgles a sylvan seep to write a lune, a crescent-shaped suture to hold the wound open.
Autumn bleeds into Solstice the way poetry soaks before the ripple but comes as wordless breath that vanishes on composing. Morning swamp-to saunter taking pause on recumbent ash soft awash in pondish laughter, bull-rushes murmur rose hips so tangy to the tongue, the first word.
Even on this sharp dawn eleven days into the solar year a thousand eyes shine images creaturely windows into waking being. We can deny our true bodyselves but here in cold wildnesses not so, stirring earth into bluey-black comes orange her original skin and ours.
The daughters of Atlas escape Orion in chase and to the west the crescent cup fills with leaking daybreaks, at dawn spills claytonia fairy-spuds and fawn-lilies asters in the meadow moonseed by the creek, a galaxy on the belly of a toad, map of heaven in mud.