I am Aurelia Fieldand when I drink I drinkIrish Whiskey, long and lean,and when the music stops,a hand slides downwith a green paper in it,I recognize a ticket, a monetary prizefor a momentary song,but not this time,this time I push the buttons,backlit neon orangeand know this time the song will lastbeyond the last call,I hear it still, hear it?Back home the night tosses me gentlyon the waves of clean sheets.In my sleep I push away auburn hairreeking with smoke. Tomorrow I willwash it and rememberstories told of slave ships to Connecticutand ghosts who roam Litchfield mansions,remember crooked railsand a straight ahead need to connectlife to lifewhile someone invisible sits alone,having forgotten how to speak,how to know when to say“I am here.”
The Button Box
A rusted blue harlequin, his smile faded,chipped at the corners, emblazons the topof the tin box.Before opening a good shake rattles old buttons;I know them, each one,and as the lid pops off, the smell of quiet dustdrifts out;it is the attic above the back stairwaythat leads to boxes of books, plastic curtainsthat with a breath would disintegrate,and a forgotten drying rack stands naked.It is always warm in the attic, and dry,and I always know who I am thereor who I was.As I sit at a child's table, on a very small chairand look out the gable window that overlooks thegarden you used to tend,I cannot let it go,someplace, maybe it is here,but it doesn't have to be the last time I breathethe air of my childhood, no, I need only rememberto take down your old button box, pry off the lid,select a favorite buttonand hold you in my hand.
When the Ravens Assemble
black feathers pour out of the sky,swoop down from crags in rock-faceto take a big, black bird-shape.Raven speaks in a commanding voicegathers his tribe for a conferenceand tells of how the blue sky loves itself.No matter who is watching, a large femaleshakes out her loose feathers,and a nearby woman tidies up her house that holds her life.Two elders stride through tall grass,bow black heads together in confidence,speak about the location of a fresh deer carcass.When I walk out later, green grass holds shook feathers as thin black bannersthat remind me to pay attention to Raven,To take a raucous message back into myselfwhere many worlds whirl in the great dance,where we are called to learn how to fly,and to then get on with it, fly, fly, fly.
Coming and Going
among the Trees
November wind tunnels down the fire-trail, underfoot, horse droppings mush into mud,a shot-gun blasts the nearby woodas I worry the good of my red coat.Keep walking. I spit out mantra wordsthat pierce through chill air,some syllables fall onto shit,heel them, grind them in goodknow here they will grow fast.Stray seeds of prayers and faint hopesall beg for the ground,all mingle blood and water.I keep walking straight as the pineswho brush a cheek, grab a pull of hairand speak so slowly,sometimes it takes all day to hear one word. They rush out green. I run a breath out."Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground.Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down." Song. Sung. Signs in the wildernesspoint to a life of saplings bent,stripped of tender bark from deer rubs.God help us, those itchy antlers.For a woman who keeps walking,a rapid heartbeat is only the beginning.
My hair is black as ravens feathersand my name is Ellsworth.I walk wherever I gounless I choose to fly.It is fasterand how it feels, how it is,oh, this is not able to be said.You tumble over yourself as the stream tumbles over rocks.Tonight, after rising onto two feet,you will jump-fly, now.Run fast, jump and use your armslike they were wings. See.You are rising, moving up.Very good. As you come down, the ground will meet you gently,as if you are a fallen leaf.Remember this and use it wisely.You are not special,you merely know better, clearer,
Dear Fithian, when we met in the vineyard,under a September canopy of hardwoods,you manned a booth selling photographsshrunk and decoupaged to mylar.While curious ladies swarmed,a riotous orange maple leaf fastened to velvet fixed my eyes,I drew my fingers over the smooth surface. We bartered pin for poem, safely giving ourselves away.Your elegant hand on a thin envelopespeaks of connections spoken and unspoken,conversation to pick up,the one when I said, "I paint to be color."Thought, but did not say, "One day I willroll naked across white canvas,hairs and pores picking up pigments, like a lost language. Oil painton my breath will beg a smeary kissskidding off onto pliant cheeks."These are things I write to youbut you are not my loverso they stay here, passing my husband's eyes,who bids me to follow any trail,as long as I return to him.This is hard. The reigning in to one path.Choice shaped by familiar skin,giving enough and not enough.If I met you with red-gloved hands,how could we resist?Today I am dangerousand can smash a world to bits.
For Martha von Rohminger
A sunny porch lifts a hooded face onto last rays,I could say I am lonely, empty in a spot, I could say I miss you.No one walked through straight pinesas slowly as you and holly hocks fellinto your apron, clipped heads in full bloom,perfect, no breath;we sat on cracked wooden steps,young knees, bony knees,clear brown legs, freckled weathered legs,this was us,your deft hands fashioned dolls from blossomsand cast a spell over my pony-tailed head."Laugh a lot" you said. I have tried notto waste a single petal of your wisdom,tortured and true, dug out of garden dirt
To Shoot A Coyote
You wake me with a twisted howl,not the clear hawoo that rises cleanly,A choke of torment catches my throat,eyes strain the dark room for a reason