Revenged in sleep, yes, a good omen:
volcano, eggplant, hawk feather
conditioning a moment of pure certainty,
instead of remorse. Birdsong dissolves
the hard black shell of their dream.
She breathes deeply, counts the number
of all those living and gives thanks.
Her skin moves over bone like sad music,
a lamentation of slow recognition.
She thinks, The next is tree across a gorge,
a trick of the eye, a drunk’s progress,
the balanced walk soon elbows and knees,
the hopeful ephemerality of creeping
going lower, the rigid belly at rest
on the gnarled limb tapering to a twig—
pointing finger arrested in emphasis.
Fear zero, the unimaginable destiny.
She twists her body like a swimmer turning
backstroke into butterfly, affirming
things still work beneath the bedclothes.
She stretches to call the nurses: sun
a push button set in pale blue sky;
water can, milk pail, red tile, hedgerow;
plowed and seeded earth pocked by rain;
rafters, stepladder, goat bleat, cockcrow;
the fox’s daily raiding of the hen house;
the baby’s naked footprints in dried mud;
snail, calendar, chain link fence;
stones everywhere, endless hard work;
how her back bent beneath wet laundry,
milk, hay, dung, branches, children;
how it arched aching when her sun-fired
husband’s body pierced her in the shade.
The holy triangle: husband, children, self,
grown geometrically into a power of itself.
She remembers the fruit silk and sap smell
of the tree that grew in the center of the yard,
its branches arms with a hundred umbrellas.
In autumn, its shapeless, colorless body
stood like Death attempting resurrection.