What do you say when you've forgotten how the grass smells, married to the dark soil crumbling in your hands? When the sun makes a bed for you to lie in? When a voice you've never heard has missed you, singing down your bones-- it's taken so long to get here. Now I'm breathing in the mountains as if I'd never left. And when I go inside I'm surprised to see a lime green worm has landed on my shorts, inching his way across a strange white country. He stops and rises, leaning out of himself-- a tiny periscope peering from the glow of the underdream where there are no symbols for death. He looks around. I place my index finger at the tip of what I guess to be his head, though I don't see an eye or an ear, or the infinitesimal feet as he crawls across my palm-- a warmer planet. Lately I've wondered what hand guides my way when I am lost. I can't feel him though I see him rise again, survey the future, flat and broken into five dead ends. I curl my fingers to make a cup and carry him like a blessing to the garden-- What will happen next is a mystery-- to be so light in the world, to leave no tracks.
1 Before he left for combat, he took care of everything: someone to plow the driveway, cut the grass. And the letter he wrote me, just in case, sealed, somewhere, in a drawer; can't be opened, must be opened if he doesn't return. I feel for my keys, hear his voice: Less is better. Late for work, still, I linger at the window of the Century Florist, a bowl of peonies, my face among the tulips. 2 Last Mother's Day, when he was incommunicado, nothing came. Three days later, a message in my box; a package, the mail room closed. I went out into the lobby, banged my fist against the desk. When they gave it to me, I clutched it to my chest, sobbing like an animal. I spoke to no one, did not apologize. I didn't care about the gift. It was the note I wanted, the salt from his hand, the words.