Map of Possibilities
Do you hear the ripshot groan of the world opening,
molluscan planet, bivalve cracking the french doors
of her glimmer-shell?
Another good night to sleep at the barn,
cold but no wind rattles the stall doors.
Different from this morning, when the wind blew
strong, letting tough grasses and cedar yearlings
sway like dancers stretching before practice,
gladdened by the simple act of moving
even if they know the drill.
And the papery bits of litter tried on new lives today,
flapping in warm February with the swoops and dives
of a seagull, or moth, or kite.
Tomorrow, friends will drive me to Fair Oaks Ranch,
where we will look at a mustang mare. Green-broke,
she needs a little work. Already I know her speckles
and silvery mane, jet stockings and Indian ears.
Do you see the roads branching
a thousand directions like grooves in parchment,
hairline cracks, a sneeze in the timestream?
An alternate reality, a reconfigured place
might bring me yet another good night to sleep
beside her as she wraps herself around my dreams—
or she might be the shivering sparrow I save from the rain,
line a shoebox with washcloths, keep her in a warm spot
near the stove—or the coffeehouse girl, she with the rivers
of dark hair, folk songs and guitar-strum to lift me
from puddles of glum. As for the truth?
Clumsy and grounded, we barely speak on the phone.
Her silences last mini-eternities; she lets me fumble
for words, make more dodo talk, trying to link
two penguins too frozen to skate the ice.
Tomorrow, I may greet the mustang mare, low-voiced to coax
and soothe; when she shows teeth, slip the snaffle-bit
into her mouth. And when she breathes, eager in the stall,
I may ease into the saddle. And tomorrow, she may take me
for a long ride: over jeep trails, through rings of bigtooth
maple and madrona trees, far back in the sun-flamed hills.
Motive turns clear when you filter
the sediments away, orbit becomes
a beeline, mud puddle a shining pool.
Every cell urges you to go. Your eye swims
in rearview clouds, the veil of fog that hangs
over the cottonwoods and chalks out
all the familiar things you leave behind.
Incense volcano on the dash fills your cab
with vanilla as you drive, two hundred miles
through Indian country to prairie's edge.
Endless slough-grass and bluestem roll by
in measureless billows, green plains
the wrong ocean for you who once surfed
the five a.m. tide and fasted till sunset
signaled late dinner, red beans and rice.
Further in, deeper in, more glass bits
for the mosaic, you drive into the heart
of the great land mass, toward angel arms,
alpha particle and omega wave, mighty
whirlwind with the very power to undo.
She loves the late hour
when all the words
have sifted away,
grains of sand
known to rub
against the skin.
At nine, she walks
through the door
and stretches out
beside me, her head
against my ribs,
her foot tracing
circles in the air,
long light bones,
delicate pivot of ankle.
When she hums,
her voice threads our room
with the same warm tones
the old trees sing, branches
groaning from the weight
of bird nests woven
in their tangled beards,
same song of nurture
and breath the snorting mares
croon, rearing their colts
in the open meadows
shuddering on hooves
shaped like moons
as they dream.
My hands lose hours
in the wilderness
of her hair.
I am a thief with no song.
Her ear on my chest,
she is lulled by
the ticking well
of blood, journeys
to and from
I am ready
to go under,
watching her foot
wheel in the sky.