At the Whim of Human Fancy
We have accelerated the evolution of chickens:
this is one way to talk about progress. To look back
without nostalgia. Scientists suggest hens’ newly yellow skin
has something to do with the ability to lay eggs year-round,
and so it always comes down to hunger. I don’t know
why I don’t write you more letters. I don’t know
why in my dreams the desert seems to be a place of great mystery —
cactus and some sort of quest. I expect
you have stopped waiting by now. After so many
trips to any empty mailbox, even the sky
would fall out of love with the sand. Even if
we could start over, would we? I grew up
with chickens, did I tell you that? And goats
and the occasional pig. It was my job to feed them all.
I hated the responsibility. Of course
there’s never one right way to do anything
but there are as many wrong ways as spines
on a saguaro. It’s kind of genius, as painful
ways to spread seeds across the land go,
the barb on the needle that keeps it holding on.
It might sound like I’m talking about God,
but it could also mean I’m more trusting
than I used to be. Faith has nothing to do with it.
I can do just less than enough over and over,
I can fall short and shorter. The chickens
are wider, more productive, more agreeable.
All this within a handful of generations.
I don’t know what else you expect from me.
Deposition: The Absent Mother
Can you explain your absence?
I am the cracked limb. The lightning scar. The smell of ash.
When I was a girl I drew the same picture over and over: the sky, rent open by a V of flying geese.
One afternoon, a man came on a horse. He carried a flag and spoke of distant wars. He ate our bread and drank our milk. I asked him to take me away but he was gone when I awoke.
I began to imagine my body as the beginning of time. I began to fear my own flesh. This was when the erasing began. When I understood the story would continue without me.
In Lieu of Apology
I can offer you the heat shimmer off Highway 11 in deep July, the smell of melting tar, the only way out of town.
I can offer my hand on a walk around the lake. I can offer the dying grass, the dry wind, the taste of grape bubble gum and everything that mattered in my childhood.
I can offer stumble, spit-take, outcast, skinned knuckles, dirty knees.
I can offer hair-metal ballads on speakers I installed myself in my Civic: sap and sadness and shiny guitars.
I can offer you six years of escape plans.
I wake. I rise. I fill my arms and search for you. I am lost. I can offer you my state of being lost. I can offer a mouthful of sand and all the words I have not yet formed.