The song is Gaelic now,
the color of fresh
by red-haired women;
or the song
is the bony white oak
and rhythm of Miwu,
a knowing that breathes
against angles of granite
and meets the ground
in a flurry of sound.
Or the song rides down from a star
over burgundy boulders
beneath a dazzling blue sky
to find the old words
buried deep in the earth.
But this heart listens.
This song. Hi-tsah-tsi-nah,
the precious rain awakening.
On this you come
as a prayer in the flesh,
on this you ride
with the roll and rollick
On this you sing
volcanic birthing words
and obsidian cools where
the blood bubbles down.
Oh look, a little girl is lost
although she stands close
to her mother’s heart.
With great energy she scrapes
the missionaries from her ribs.
Shoulder blades curve
around the spine
and the pestle dances,
and dust collects
in the creases
of her hands. Or
she is kneeling in a small room
at the edge of the mesa,
polished black bone of earth,
cherished piki stone,
moving back and forth
this act of love, grinding
the corn until it is dark,
brushing the white cornmeal
into one basket, the blue
into another, thinking already
of the daughters she will bear
glowing in the sun.
Or she is standing at the bog
inside a mountain meadow,
hands raised up to tie back her hair
with a thin red rag; seeds loosen
and cling to her shoes, her stockings,
her long skirt, her skin.
She fearlessly walks
through gold fiddleneck,
small mountain lupines, clouds
of white popcorn flowers fallen upward
out of the ground
to cover the hillside
like snow. Or
a woman gathers loop after loop
of heavy rope to guide the head
of the horse she straddles and sometimes
she is the mare and the soft sandstone
and the hot rocks rolling in acorn soup,
trying to heal the gash spread across her path
where the crescent moon has sliced the earth.
Ocean to mountain to mesa, the bundle she carries
is a sacred memory, a rainbow that arches
from one side of the sky to the other.
Or a woman is closing
a steamer trunk, has to sit on it hard
to get the latch through and
the leather buckled; seagulls dive
outside the wall of the ship, she
hears their demands, maybe one
has come inside to brush her cheek
with its pointed wing or maybe
just another tear warmed by cooling blood.
How she aches in the cold, she is so thin;
and when she pulls the blanket around her
and lies down on the floor, she is no more
than a pile of old rags, a few sticks of firewood,
a broken broom. Steady against the roll of the sea
she is patient as the rocks that wait for the ship
along a northern corridor, angry as the storms
midway across the Atlantic that shake their fists
at those who must leave home, and as deeply hidden
as the icebergs that threaten to disembowl.
She has already seen the world dissolve;
now she feels the breaking
of one last thread
to ancestral land,
feels the very break