On the lee slope of the small coastal mountain
which conceals the sun the first hour after its rising,
in the dry, steep ravines, the live
mist of the heat is seething like dust
left over from an earlier world.
A crow with a swimmer's shoulders works
the air. And a little bird flies up into a
tree and closes its wings, like a blossom
folded up into a bud again.
In the distance is a very old pine, now sparse
and frail as if hand-painted on a plate
washed for a hundred years. And the bell
in the tower, which rings the hours — the rhythm
of its intervals is known to me.
I am forgetting my mother. It well may be
some fur of her marrow is in a steep
trough of fog aslant in a gouge
of these hills — her bones were pestled in this city,
down the street from this hotel,
after her face had been rendered back
to her God. I don't sense her here.
At moments I picture my young self,
that long, narrow chin pointed like
a mosquito proboscis. She knew this place.
This is where she saw the grindings of the
femurs and ulnas breathing in the air,
and the crow's work by which it earned
its eggs, and where a songbird seemed
a flower again, and saw a tree
worn away by human eating,
and the double notes of several metals'
struck resonance waiting in what had
been them, before they were belled from the earth.
She wanted what was not there, and she saw and heard it.