The Snow Leopard Mother

Jennifer K. Sweeney

The snow leopard mother runs straight
down the mountain.
Elk cliff. Blizzard.
Hammers keening
into the night.
Her silence and wild
falling is a compass
of hunger and memory. Breath
prints on the carried-away body.
This is how it goes so far away
from our ripening grapes and lime,
coyote eyes rimming the canyon.
Yet
we paddle out in our ice boat
headed toward no future at last.
O tired song of what we thought,
stillness crouches like a prow.
We break the ice gently forward.
If I want to cling to anything
then this quiet of being the last
to know about our lives.

More by Jennifer K. Sweeney

Poem for My Son in the Car

The wipers sweep two overlapping hills
on the glass, we are quiet against the
squeaky metronome as we often are
before the concerns of the day well up.
Today: Is it dark inside my body?
The wet cedar’s dark of green-gone-black
of damp earth mending itself,
a pewter bell rung into night’s collected
sigh, choral and sleep-sunk.
Dark as the oyster’s clasp
in its small blind pocket
and the word pocket a tucked notion
set aside in-case-of.
Inside there are vestibules, clapboards
trapdoors, baskets,
there is cargo,
there is the self carrying the self
sprint, trodden—
nowhere does it not—
and mournful as a spine bowing to wood
you carry your actions; inside
is cave and concern,
everything purposeful
heartwood, clockwork, crank and tender
iron in the mountain belly,
all the hidden things breathing.
Outside of and woven into, you are
the knowledge you can’t touch
the desire you can’t locate,
unnameable questions unnameable answers,
source and tributary
and the rivers that hold you
beneath. Your darkness
lives in that potential,
snowblind
aurora
pulse
shore.