I stop at the old cemetery; I don’t know why. the wind is crazy, here at the top of the hill. a gravemarker (the woman beneath a willow tree) catches my attention. I can’t read any of the words — algae runs like tears.
I wonder who this woman loved so much that she set herself in stone.
mindful writing day
we sit, each waiting for the other to move.
a bird flies between our cars, so close we both laugh.
the reason for the hurry is forgotten.
a window full of monday: tires engines construction workers.
the neighbor suddenly and inexplicably breaks glass.
she dances down the aisle to a song I loved when she was a child. I’m irritated. I want her to stop. I tell her that she’s not the only person in the garden department. she takes the bright yellow flowers out of my hands and laughs.
“no,” she says, “but I am the only one dancing.”
a handful of stones
I’m standing at the kitchen door. the saltwater waves of cicada song have lulled overnight into a steady grackle gurgle. the air is cool now. I look for birds but the leaves are unyielding. the branches are stubborn. he picks this moment to reappear. he struts on lanky legs. he flicks cigarette ash with a flutter of his glossy wing. I tell the indian that he looks ridiculous — he is too pompous, too iridescent. his laugh chatters like a rusty gate. he hops up to the deck, to the chair. he looks at me with a golden eye.
the indian preens.
I am sitting beneath my kitchen window. spiders gather here like angels with surrendered wings. they fly into this cool glass space, lulled by the risks of yellow, of heat. this window is absolute. this window is silence. this window rearranges molecules. it wanes in shadows like a milk moon. an indian walks up my driveway. he is whistling. he is carrying a paper bag. he walks with apples, he walks with flames. ash falls from his arms like feathers.
he tells me to close my window.
the indian is sitting in a tree near the edge of a spillway. he whistles, he calls. he wants me to climb peeling bark, to fold legs and arms, to balance on bare feet. I lock the car door. I take off my shoes. it is cold, high on this branch. his brown skin is feathered; he wraps me in a wing. he points at the deep-water lake with a cigarette. this is where we come from, he says. we swim until we can walk. we walk until we can fly. there is time for everything. he shifts, and his yellow beak is wet in the setting sun.
he has nothing more to say.
(revised version) issue 52 — right hand pointing
there is no moon. the indian stalks me like a kitten — pouncing, seizing. I taste his wet nose and my breath is suddenly his. I exhale stale smoke, fermented apple. I walk barefoot on the cold wood floor; he slips between my ankles. he waits, a shadow in the hallway, questioning. I have no answers. I just want tea — warmth in my mouth like life, like morning. the indian lights a cigarette. water boils, leaves steep and bloom. he says change is coming; it disturbs sleep.
it wanders into the room on silent paws.
a dog is barking his opinion. he is my ex-husband, waking neighbors. something rustles leaves in the backyard, tips over a stack of empty clay pots. the indian is in my head, feeling his way because there is no moon; there are no stars. I open the door and the opossum screams, frozen in guilt. light turns his black eyes to gold. his teeth, his pink tongue are fear and they writhe, they gnash. neither one of us moves. we feign, our dead tails curling like parasitic worms.
the indian stands with his feet flat on the ground.
(revised version) — issue 52 — right hand pointing
he is a shadow, my constant companion: a darkness that follows the light. today he is beneath the edge where the roof overhangs. he puts his brown hand (a fluttering bird) inside the eave. bats, he says. his arm reappears like a phantom. a crow watches this conversation. the indian tells me to wait for the cold. I’ll come back and lift your friends out. trust me, he says. the crow (a silent shade) raises black wings, flies to the roof. the indian climbs down. he points a burning cigarette towards the bird.
listen, he says.
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