How from Politeness to the Trees

Solstice dabbles behind the hills, whitefire at the horizon well into what should be evening, well into after, meting out to what should be the privacy of night illumination enough to fray the sky.   

Black wings snuff out the owlish air in the cottonwood’s elephant silhouette, readying a backlit section of branches for the wind’s beckoning, the shush of each restacking wing not an endearment exactly, but close.

The one track mind combs the mown meadow for the word bristling beneath cut tongues of grass, which is the word of the scavenging animal whose prayer is most like the light’s gestures on the seventh longest day of the century’s seventh year, which undo themselves expertly.

Lightning precedes thunder the way the river precedes stone through untrammeled channels of interface, visitors and visiteds and the rain, pricking.

To the voice that calls in the woods, Come back, I’ll throw the stone you whimpered for, the animal demurs, is perfection, is diminishing, does not pause to look back.

This earth-in-paragraph recovers its fathomlessness subsequent to jackknifing grass.

Front Yard Rhyme

Stone path, oat grass, stray cat, snare,
feather drift in feather air.
Laurel, anthill, train horn blare,
pecan shell shards on the stair.
One cat gnaws,
one wing tears.
Less song for the power line to bear.
Coo-OO-oo she sang, my dear.


The grackles plummet down to pierce the lawn

For seeds and fat brown live oak acorns and

Ignore the orange plastic watering cans

My daughters drop in the cold grass, my daughters

Saying, Goodnight grass, as if the blades they’d watered

By hand were their daughters, as if the grass

Were a feeling they’d been feeling, greenly

Reckoning the evening, the ball moss falling from the trees,

The sun circling the crouched shade of the weeping

Persimmon tree as mildly as the knife rounds

The persimmon I bring inside so I can say

Of the pierced skin, Look, this is the color we

Want sunset to be, the color of the plastic

Watering cans shocking the dark that falls

Over the suggestions of footprints in the grass,

The black grackles, and the acorns battering

Our metal roof while I feed my ravenous daughters

A soft dinner that they clutch with grubby hands and gnaw.

I Lost My Horse

I was looking for an animal, calf or lamb,
in the wire, metal and hair along the fence line.
Wire, metal and hair and there, in the gully, a man

I was pretending was dead. I pretended
to leave him where the woods met the meadow,
walking fast because I’d left my horse lashed

to a fence I lost track of two valleys
ago. Like a horse, I shied from the dead.
Here, calf. Here, lamb. I listened, wanting

(without my horse, my calf or lamb) to be
whipsmart rather than wanted. I wore orange
on antelope season’s first afternoon 

and waited for the click that means the safety is
off. When I spoke, my story was about picking
skulls clean. I wanted everything to be

afraid of me, the horseless girl who wanted
to kill a dead man again. The white bed
with a window behind its headboard became

ice on the meadow road and a tree to stop
a truck dead. I meant to trace my boot steps
back to the fence where things went wrong,

find my horse mouthing the bit, tied up by her
reins. I looked for the horse because she looked
safe enough to love. I looked for the calf

or lamb because there was no calf or lamb.
The man left before I could leave him, and I pretended
the world was afraid of me because I was alone.