Widow's Scarf

My mother’s elegy was long and red.
Off the needles, stitch by stitch, it slipped,
when tears failed her and words knotted in her throat.

It kept her from going crazy,
this long, thin thing
falling off her lap,
curling into itself,
with each row making it through one minute,
her mind occupied in her hands.

How else to spend those first nights
with a husband dead
and never before alone in a house for more than a day?

Over time the scarf lengthened less,
until one afternoon, needles crossed mid-stitch,
its keening accomplished,
it was laid aside.

Catch and release

It was once in early May, a raw day,
Bitter, on a western creek, I crouched
Beneath a weeping willow, expecting
Nothing, resting really, the black back
Eddy smooth as glass when suddenly
The rod tip bent with such great force
I almost fell, but didn’t though
I couldn’t move, it was that cramped
Beneath the tree nor could I even raise
My rod. I could only hold my breath,
The reel singing, line spun out,
Pulled by what I couldn’t see, but
How I longed for just a glimpse,
A glimpse would be enough, I thought,
Until a glimmer showed itself, a flash
Of light deep in the dark, and then,
Of course I wanted more, the all of it
To see and hold before releasing,
Letting go. Like life, the way we’re meant
To live, to let each breath be all there is,
But seldom do; it isn’t easy.
Perhaps I prayed, I can’t be sure, but
Inch by inch, the fish drew near, until
The moment, timeless, now, a rainbow
Like a blessing rose, shimmering,
A gift bestowed.

Anatomy of seduction

        it turns out
the allure of hummingbirds
                has little to do

with their own rouge—
       instead, the thrilling
     iridescence of their
               wings depends

upon the distance

       between the ridges
of their feathers, dulling structures

        my guess we’d ignore,
were it not for some blessed

       with incident light


We say grace before we start
to eat good things together, as if
our thin voices could somehow
divine it. We call it table grace,
as if it were the elegance of furniture.
We say a woman has it in the way
she moves. We equate it with luck
sometimes, modify it with sheer
as if we could shave it to size.

Our gesture is not the real thing,
we know that, that’s wholly
Your deal. This is mere posture—
or should we say sheer posture—
a way to halt moving limbs, to cease
together here, to allow a tilt
toward gratitude

After so much darkness

                      —for my father

After so much darkness, the field’s excess of light,
the day floating on itself as in a dream.
But it isn’t a dream, the small wound songs of the house finch,
the sun hammering the grasses’ bronze tips.
We had gathered about your bed

like a boat we tried to push off stony ground.
We wanted to help: we believed in the buoyancy of that water.
You held onto the ruins instead of our hands.
What did we know of how it is to look back at one’s life?

A bee swings from the nightshade.
Ants carry their burden up the post of the shed unmoved by song.The grasses bend under the weight of so much light.
And the balm of the wind: from the woods the singing of leaves.
Or is it the sound of water flowing?