Through photographs, I was almost
there! Wading among the sumac
of my own baby's cradle,
where all the children grow up singing
oh my sweet calamine,
cleaning tar from feet with cooking oil,
trying to negotiate with a faceless wind.
And solitude is a long, indestructible
bone, a dry finger,
feeling the bruise of etched initials:
she was here,
he was here, they were there,
Solitude: it's a heavy sound
on the tongue, has weight
but contains sun:
see it there: sun.
There used to be ghosts hunkered down in the dunes.
There used to be European diseases.
There used to be a town called La Panza,
perched on waves of quartz, and
little girls sleeping there
dreamt of bears.
Sometimes I worry
my own heart might become a ghost town.
I rejoice in gentle artifacts still mobile,
you're so very alive, you there,
Both literally and in some larger sense
And didja know, didja:
ten years old in Los Osos,
I walked out in my nightie,
entered a windstorm.
It knocked me over like a sapling,
like a cruel love or hard time-
the crouching oaks all rattled
and somewhere all the diamondbacks were
sleeping, I guess,
beneath rocks, on the waves of quartz,
dreaming of bears.
Time wound sideways through
the sand. Indefatiguable. Oh boy.
I've heard that some oaks became gunpowder.
I don't know where the bears went,
but there are still bear-crossing signs on the highway.
And the oak moth is still a glutton,
and I am too,
still trying to capture the bounty of
still almost attempting to apply taxonomy
like all the others passing, mapping,
she was here, he was here,
they were there,