It was at night that you broke, Mother, climbing from slumber
like a trout raised from water, its edges dipped in salt,
how you descended the stairs
to spin wet clay into vases,
their bowled bodies taut with beginnings.
They said you’d been sleepwalking.
With closed eyelids rimmed in shadow,
you turned & turned your way
out of a life you didn’t want.
Imagine my husband resurrected as a mammoth,
his tusks fierce with the milk of marrow,
how the floorboards bow beneath him.
And I, like Saint Catherine of Siena,
trying to make up for all he has given us.
Each day I lessen.
Moon hanged over the field in a quiet panic,
one night my hipbones rise,
the next my shoulder blades.
Everything about me salt.
Catherine starved to death on communion wafers.
One day there will only be bones
for him to feed on,
the new extinct.
MEMOIRS OF INFIDELITY
We have forgiven each other for the flood
neither of us wanted, the poltergeists
it left between us who closed their mouths
like thieving crows
when asked to speak.
Her hair still in my bed,
its whimpered red rinsing my sheets
with the appearance of bleed.
Every evening a decision of and/or:
sleep together or sleep apart,
& sex, or the two of us avoiding one another
like exit wounds.
Still the rain comes, & still
when I am beneath you
I imagine you imagining
ARLINGTON COUNTY, 1953
Once as a child you believed the graveyard shift
meant whole cemeteries uprooting themselves &
passing like ghosts through cities
to some other hills
that would accept them as they were,
would take them in
with the grace of an unhinged door.
You loved as well as anyone.
Better than a mortician,
with your softness of throat & unending want.
The way your blood sang in all octaves
like the wings of a sparrow
still curled in sleep.
All day the men speak of the best way
to put a horse out of its misery.
Where to place the bullet,
how to fold the legs beneath the belly
& carry it to the river.
It was a tearing of the mare’s insides
as they stretched to let the colt through,
everything hole & wound,
open & red, so thick it stilled the tide pools.
The whole time
they come up with new ways to end it
I cannot help but think
of my mother.