No Return

No Return

Halfway through night, the girl whimpers in her crib,

and from a dream of flying in bare branches, a woman

leaps from her bed without her robe and rushes to soothe

the places that cannot be soothed. Her dream wings

return to her scapulae. Her hands return to their flesh

and she presses them into the little girl’s back.

No longer bird, the mother re-enters her familiar scent,

part milk, part sleep, part sheet-warmed skin,

and from a nightmare, the girl inhales her way home again

without ever opening her eyes. Her breathing evens.

Her body stills. The mother remembers her wings.

She returns to her own bed, cold now, awake,

and her hands find her womb where the girl once flew.

She is nameless. Vaster. An amorphous is.

Out the window, bare branches bow to the wind.

Climbing Impson Road at Twilight

It’s so beautiful, I can barely concentrate on walking. I only want to smell juniper berries.

—Finn Trommer, 5 years old

Why is it what makes us the happiest

brings, too, the sharpest slash of ache—

a boy in the forest inhales juniper,

grabs his mother’s hand and dances her

close to the boughs—how she beams and

O, breaks with his joy. How lightly she holds

his gloved hand. She inhales, blue pungency,

constellations of berries, swathes of feathery evergreen.

And inside her, the rupture, the rapture, the place

where she held him so long, so short.

Some part of her wants to fold him so small

she could slip him back into her womb—that close!

And another part leans toward his brightening voice.

Her flesh, but not hers. Love reaches across

his happiness, her fullness, her loss.

Not Soon Enough


My boy asks me tonight, Is it still light

somewhere? I tell him, Yes, the other side

of Earth is in the sun. I lay beside

him on the bed. He curls his thin limbs tight

to mine. But mom, what if the sun goes out?

What good is logic in the night? The bones

want something warm and near, well known—

stiff facts alone cannot ease nagging doubt.

My love, I tell him, if the sun is gone

then I’ll still be here with you. And I trace

his cheekbones with my thumbs until the hushed

luff of his breath subsides to sleep. O yawn

of knowledge, pompous truth, the night’s no place

for you. O sun, please rise. O dawn, come soon.

And So Lash It Down Again

He did not mean to catch her fingers in the bathroom door.

It was boyish vigor. Flash mistake. Something more.

I’ve seen it, tried to not see it before, the thrill in him when she cries.

Rook callousness, a cruel shaft. I cringe. I wish its black wings gone.

I want to kiss his forehead, smooth his hair, as if with mother touch

I could unhinge each landing place in him where malice curls its talons.

As if. As if I didn’t have it, too, shoved down as far as I can leash.

Clever jackdaw. Murder of one. Passed on. Passed on. Empty lash.

Flutter. Spasm. Passerine flaw. Comber of carrion. Caw. Caw.