for my mother

mountains and us clothed
in soft white fog,
suddenness of cliffs

you and I carve walking sticks
bursts of sun dust
thousands of yellow & violet flowers

red and white polkadot
mushrooms among trees,
strong smell of ferns & cones

stones in pots on our backs
warnings to black bears,
we gather forget-me-nots

distant curves
of snow and peaks
in the white of the moon

we go where rivers are born
drink from bold beginnings
with the cup of our hands

shepherds’ rain fast and thin
we empty the boots of water
a bear licks our pots

like an easy slip into a dream
you and I hold hands
and walk into dark woods

I know what it means to go
anywhere with you: you are
the gentlest moss on which I sleep


In last night’s dream gladioli grew wild around
the house, queens-of-the-night crashed through walls,
and the remains of the windowsills were overtaken
by tall white lilies and blue irises.
The roses we grew for preserves strangled the door.

I was sitting next to the poplar grown through the roof
when I saw a man hanging smoked fish under the eaves.
My grandparents were having a meal of bread, onion and water;
they were talking about bringing the corn to the mill
and threshing the beanstalks in the yard.

From the beans, the smell of summer.
And these plants are hiding the story.
I saw the sticks we made out of oak branches;
I remembered how we sat in a circle,
the dust from the stalks as we beat them—
something like the sound of galloping horses.

They carried on with the meal. Sifted wheat.
I saw them walk right past me. They loaded the cart.
And I thought I heard my name in the throat of a gladiola.


When the strangers walked into the house,
took the paintings off the walls, and
sealed off the rooms with red wax,

part of this poem listened in a hospital. A woman’s milk
fed the words she couldn’t say into her child’s mouth.
For seven months men in suits stayed in the house.

Someone tied the hands of the man
who inflamed the center of the capital with protest,
while they took the paintings off the walls.

A few lines cowered in the grass, outside the windows,
with the neighbors who watched the girl answering questions
to the strangers who settled into the house.

And yet someone followed her sister on the streets
and photographed her pure black eyes,
deep and knowing in the paintings on the walls.

Now that the strangers have left the house
the poem would like to know:
can it place once more the paintings on the walls,
will the son tell the secrets of his mother’s milk,
will the handcuffs come off the man’s hands,
will the girl stop answering questions,
will her sister burn the photographs in the gorse?


For three days now I’ve spoken to no one.
My steps sound as sure as waves on sand.
Only fireflies light the way back to camp.
The inside of me erupts in this silence.

Today I untangled a butterfly from my hair—
by this light I imagine him again
yellow tangled in yellow—
And I left the sky still purpled with the sun,
a sliver of moon waving good-bye.

By the lamp burning are not kisses,
the not yet disappearing of me into your eyes
the never touches beside the tent,
the torn off pages with the way
I did not take.

For three days now I’ve been unaware of hours;
I stood in the water touching its ripples with both palms
the way I imagined you might touch my face.