Hudson’s Hope

 

Her loneliness said return, but by then the dam covered the canyon

with its dark cloth. Standing on the precipice, she remembered everything:

how once, she was a girl who lay on her back in a barn, and the canyon

filled with sky, a sea whose fish were named sparrow, swallow, osprey, owl.

An old man opened his door and she walked in.

 

How the windows broke the sky into pieces. How daisies’ hard spines

cracked the dirt, and their faces peered over the sill.

The kitchen clock’s two stiffened fingers. The tractor whose colour

the wind stole, its wheels filled with mice and straw.

Sparrow’s tracks in snow. The pile of field stones.

And he, bitten thin by weather.

And she thought of their two hearts, horse and man, buried

under the new sea. The fractured steps he stumbled down at the end.

The moon, too, drowned. Only its light rising from the water.

 

And if the old man was hungry or thirsty, he could tell no one

but the thousand mouths of stone. He, the night watchman

of his own small room, his pine box bed.

Each noon and night he’d left the fist of his napkin on the plate.

She listened for the hay fork standing by the barn, for the small

silent boats of birds, but could hear no song.

She wondered if fallen apples could rise like a question.

 

In the days that passed she dreamt herself underwater, curtains

billowing over her bed, the willow waving in the yard.

Back then, she thought they were poor. Then she remembered

how lilac bloomed among barbed wire.

Once, she was a girl.