Once where my mother, a girl
stood forested, deer gathered.
Backlit, their coats and antlers
became a chorus of sparks.
Later, her white skates blading
the millpond’s frosted surface.
From nowhere, inverse illumination
cantatas of polar light.
Christmas eve, the rushing reds and greens
the bells they said belonged to Santa’s sleigh
she knew in fact were solar winds
whipping up the exosphere.
Now in her winter garden
the apple tree’s an ice-rimed
signal fire, figure she will translate to mean
the arrival of what has been.
I am sitting in my father’s Adirondack chair
re-reading Blood Meridian, the part where the Comanches
ride down the filibusters
who like the kid are spooked –
the piping of the quena,
flutes made from human bones.
Later there’s the Yuma raid and Glanton’s skull
split to the thrapple
then at the end the dancing, fiddling judge
who says he’ll never sleep or die.
I read it to him once – those were the passages
my father liked the best.
The judge makes sense
he’d say, sometimes there’s simply
no way out.
My mother’s garden quivers at its peak.
Orange shoals of dwarf calendulas
late lupin with their spines undone
the tool shed ringed in rhubarb. On stilts
the painted houses built for bluebirds
travelling north from Tennessee.
She wants to know the reason why
there hasn’t been some kind of sign –
no jew’s harp, no camphor.
His going caused a lapse in the mechanics.
Shouldn’t there be gaps
an opening for visitations?
I read the epilogue again
its disquisition on sequence and causality
its talk of fire struck from rock
then spot the broad-winged hawk
that banks and glides
red against a geodesic line of sky.
Aman in Ireland
My name means
In my country
I was a champion
in the mountains
through surf froth
over salt-desert plateaus.
I was a winner
of races, received
gold cups, money.
I became wealthy.
In this country
I am grateful
for the coat, the boots
the blankets, the bed
where I sleep unburdened
each night returned
to the gray Caspian
the black Karabakh
each morning beseeching
please take me to the place of horses.