Millholm Lane

(for Drew)

In the morning you look
Into my eyes full of new information
As my fingers trace the rippled wale
Of sunlight on your back
And I call out your name again
And again, a tantric mantra.

Words, the bodhisattva said, are like
The energy that pilots the universe:
All beautiful, until what we do corrupts them.

In the afternoon you take me
To meet Uncle Thomas in Prestwick.
His words are thorn-scrub; his voice
Is what drapes beauty over them.
We walk a path hammered into the dirt
By 800 years of feet with a common goal.
The autumn hay is in, jelly-rolled
In the meadows and musty-sweet.

I don’t know what taught you
The soft, dark touch of patience,
But it makes its own maps.

The abandoned slaughterhouse is filled
With blackbirds’ wheedling cries.
They scatter as we pass, and I rise on their wings.
Petal, the man below says to the woman,
It’s no game. You can’t hold the executioner’s hand
Then fret over the bloodstains on your glove.

Further down the path your longer strides
Will carry you ahead of me. I’ll pause to take a picture
And you’ll reach back a hand, knowing I’ll run
To you and take hold, your cool fingers in mine.

The birds wheel off to the left, calling to one another
That we were harmless after all, too lost
In each other’s regard to throw stones
Or fire a shotgun over the fields to move them along.

They’re romantics, full of bitchy joie de vivre
And free to fly where they please.
They could be in an olive grove in Tuscany by dawn,
Or over a stubbled Kansas wheatfield next month.
We won’t hear their wiseacre chatter when we wake,
Painted in strips of light by the half-closed blinds.

(2012)

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