In the glow of a nightlight: a baby's finger tucked in her mouth, wadded socks, a barrette cobwebbed with fine strands.
In a house near ours six children burned to death.
My daughter's heel curves like an apple in my palm. I can wrap my fingers around her foot, feeling her bones, her breath bright birds against the winter dawn. When she wakes frost veins the pane. Smoke curls from a chimney.
I touch eyebrows, nose, feel mouth tug my breast, the burn of milk. You, small acorn, in the creases of God's palm. God folds his fingers over you. That is all.
It may be that we are the mockingbirds of the universe. No bee studies to imitate the bower bird and build postmodern hives of sticks and debris,
no bear hibernates in a tree on a platform of bent branches, exploring the experience of gorillas, no walking or crawling creature spends its life desperate to build wings; no other creature here sees a meteor streak across space and thinks— I could do that. Or watches army ants destroy everything in their path and forms ranks.
Or maybe we are this small locus of the universe watching itself, thinking itself through.
Why else would some of us study ancient stone bones our whole lives, arguing passionately over how they ran, what kind of mothers they were, how anything that size had sex,
much less the frozen moons of far distant planets where nothing will ever buy or sell us anything;
why else the Sistine Chapel, or Guernica, why else poems, why else prayers, why else words at all?