Oh, silent be; it is the breeze…
swept chill…brushed down the stairs
from open bedroom windows at this time of day
when house heat flutters inside curtains toward the night…
when cold presses down the chimney…draws
through attic venting where life is cardboard boxed
and stored with high chair stroller crutches walker
Oh, silent be; it is the bat…
that swims through air to dart twist snatch
the glow from lightning bugs… whine from anopheles.
I watch them stitch the sky, these thin winged mice that
echo sweep abrupt to flit…flit for a shoulder neck vein
hot blood sip from pasture cows so stoic in their
Oh, silent be; it is the cat…
there on my evening sill it blurs gray smolder, perhaps
brain drowned in sweet apricot memory of mouse
flesh…tooth slivered warm into its mouth. I would
not disturb it now from this imagined reverie…and I
wonder…wonder if it hears his distant brother owl or
senses change of pressure in this house.
He…rotates hours in tractor green
rust red…bruise purple…cow black,
and slogs mud brown to harvest gold;
he stretches days to months of acre
farmland distance smudged to dusty
lilac edged pale orange to sunset.
She…stacks rainbow cotton into strata
on her closet shelves… pink yellow rose
denim blue…and she turns flower print
calico to fat quarters for quilts’ necessity;
she cuts pale pastel lengths for day clothes,
crisp white curtains for their bedroom,
layette laces, a black mourning shift.
They…jar garden colors…inter them dated
deep to cellar racks…their summer bounty
of intense prairie heat…tomato bean beet
corn plum dimmed…cooled in basement
gloom until kitchen resurrected to the
palette of their plates…for lives lived
cumulus against a cloud fog mist canvas
of blue white graying years.
I’ll tug at her apron while she reads books,
and whistle off tune while she bakes bread,
and I’ll climb in clogs on bare wood stairs…up
and down, and up and down until she looks at me.
Then, with permission, I’ll sit at her feet and
tell her that I see visions and hear voices…and
she will tell me I am dying soon…not today…not
tomorrow, for I’ll have days to assign the giving,
and to choose right order of the songs on lists
I’ll paste on doors and where people hang their coats.
She has pockets in her apron, and from them
she fills my hands with question marks and
exclamations…and ending marks of periods
she’s gathered from my life when I, so very
careless…thoughtless…dropped them from
my notice as trifling to its needing.
And I…downcast with regret…leaving her…
shall wish I had not asked.