A heron swills the air like wine,
and dumb-tongued, wide-eyed, we
are nothing to her. My mother’s blue
is not her blue; my colors too
blur, then run like a land animal.
In the early hours in this small,
New Hampshire town, if
the cock’s call is not shrill enough
to save me, the shadow of a leaf
darkening the breast of a beech
will stir me—up from down
pillows, ecru sheets. All is simple:
neither thought nor speech can root
here, so far north. My mouth transmutes
into an untuned instrument, whose frets
my mother presses, now mawkishly,
now with a modesty wooly as a bruise.
Only before the mirror can we twin
one another, cat’s-cradling the thirty years
between us with a sprawl of milky thread.
Whatever is unsaid then, or after
the evening news, on the banks of a river
with as many syllables in its name as silver
fish in its skirts, will remain as stones.
First, snag-toothed. Later, smooth.
— from Juniper Volume 5, Issue 3