I walk out to check on the squawking hens & brood
of chicks, the morning night an atmospheric dew
immune to suspicion & fear unlike the nature
of heifers in the barn, a rest from snagging necks
on barbed wire to eat honeysuckles along the fence
line, a commotion often thwarted by territorial hens
perhaps unsettled by the blue moon, I think, heading
up the hill for a view, pausing to watch a feather
sailing near a dogwood Grandpa planted before he died,
ate up with cancer, heart gave out—then an awful cry
from an owl in a trap atop the shed’s utility pole deceptively
moving, shadows shimmering the ground, up its greased
spine, a barn owl pecking at cotton rats scaling the pole,
a claw trap Grandpa set, a trap I failed to move.
Delightful way to go,
I say to the fox salivating from a distance,
vanishing within the vowels of night, the consonants
of curiosity. May mine be like the jazzy sap of maple
trees, a moon walking hills & fields of figs & dates,
my atomic spirit a double-helix sunrise,
no second death! Yes, an eternal weekend of light slides.
May I welcome my first not by my hand.
I resist the voice that speed-dials a coward’s end:
Curse the pills crushed in milk, the train that tempts
me to its tracks, the nail gun hissing near my temple.
The tongue can heal, the tongue can kill, I rebuke what lessens me.
Better to seek than to stray: Nearer, my God, to thee.
Is that you whispering, “Ain’t I good,” while I ease my maple’s tap,
that ladybug hitchhiking the grasshopper’s back,
that dragonfly patrolling the stalled tractor in the pasture,
those hypnotic eyes of a luna moth thought dead in monkey grass,
awakened by my breath, wings winking toward an ash
tree where I carved the words seen in a dream, “Divine Laughter”?
My heart knows its sadness, only I can share its joy on hiatus
lately: To lose a love, his highway death—suicide, some say,
is like an anchor, a wasp that won’t let go. Going blind,
like a curtain slowly closing, is a grief of a different kind.
To see or not to see, that is the question. Nonetheless,
may this morning bring digression. May the wild lilacs
rise in the air as I burn the pasture, burnt grass
crackling like fat in a skillet, like popcorn between my toes
when I rescue a fledgling fleeing weeds near approaching
flames. May the hen, missing a chick last seen among the scallions
skirting the coop, raise the bobwhite quail with her brood.
We all deserve second chances, companions too.