When the cow died by the green sapling, her limp udder splayed on the grass like something from the sea, we offered our words in their low calibrations— which was our fashion—then severed her horns with a pug-toothed blade and pounded them out to an amber transparency, two sheets that became, in their moth-wing haze, our parlor windows. They softened our guests with the gauze-light of the Scriptures, and rendered to us, on our merriest days, the sensation of gazing through the feet of a gander. In time we moved up to the status of glass—one pane, then two—each cupping in proof of its purity a dimple of fault, a form of distortion enhancing our image. We took the panes with us from cottage to cottage, moth-horn and glass, and wedged up the misfitted gaps with a poultice of gunny and wax. When woodsmoke darkened our bricks, we gave to the windowsills a lacquer of color—clear blue with a lattice of yellow: a primary entrance and exit for light. And often, walking home from the river and small cheese shop, we would squint their colors to a sapling green, and remember the hull of that early body, the slap of fear we suffered there, then the little wash of recovery that is our fashion—how we stroked to her bones a cadenced droning, and took back from her absence, our amber, half-literal method of sight.
From The Ghost Trio by Linda Bierds (Henry Holt and Company, 1994). Copyright © 1994 by Linda Bierds. Appears courtesy of the author.
Linda Bierds was raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and attended the University of University of Washington, where she received her BA in 1969 and her MA in 1971.
Date Published: 1994-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/windows