She works among the budding daisies, near a row of
lettuce seedlings. She will seed the summer squash,
and soon a cat will bring her a dead bird. Her husband
will call her from the house and her body will tense
with listening, then relax into laughter.
The windows are blue, still heavy with night. Outside
it is warm: she kneels in earth, pulling slowly, She
wants to be touched, hands feeling her cheekbones,
her fine shoulders, her breasts. Kisses: gentle, or
not very gentle. The sexual breeze began on a day
such as this.
I must weed the daisies, she says to herself. There
is much to be done.
The wind comes up, as it often does here, suddenly,
with a great and steady force. Intentions, mysteries:
all forgotten now. No one says: there were voices,
a garden. Dust plays about.
She is looking at the early leaves, the air above
her full of their sounds.
This was an ocean floor; and even now the air seems
full of salt, full of waiting, and the land runs off
in waves, lines that could only have been formed by
the pulse of water.
It was a lake, where mastodons came to drink. Then a
lake-bed, a marsh. Grasses came, and people walking,
riding horses. Circles of fire. Homesteaders’ fences
and houses made of sod. They farmed recklessly. They
It will be a desert.
A man’s white suit and a woman’s dress are floating:
ruffles of yellow, a silk rose on a lapel, They court
rarely now, in the attic’s dryness.
In the room below they lie in sheets patterned like the
waves of a Japanese woodcut. Richer still: like 19th-
century endpapers. They lie in endpapers.
Photographs peer out from the edge of a mirror; mother,
father, sister, daughter, son; though no one names them
now. The sleepers form words that cannot be understood.
Their feet are held in runners’ stance, their hands
touch lightly above their heads.
He groans, a child-like whimper. She is silent, cool.
Light moves on the house, gazing indifferently on the
rose-colored carpet. It moves, sure of itself, in the
pattern made by the Venetian blind; and strokes, one
by one, the books on a shelf, the re-upholstered sofa, an
unfinished afghan, blue roses scattered on wool: as if
to say: you too will settle, and be moved, for it is
spring, or summer, or fall. Dust dances visibly.
A cat scratches at the civilized pattern of an armchair:
stops, looks up, resumes her task.
The sleepers luxuriate: he in his jungle of panic, she
in an old farmhouse by a gravel road. The air is dirty.
They have come to bury an old couple. The clerk sets
up in the kitchen. The auctioneer holds a lampshade over
his head and begins to chant,
Faces crowd his wooden platform. Fingers touch the boxes
of glassware, quilting pieces, arrowheads. Long-Johns and
work gloves stuffed in a sack are sold for a dollar: it is
She stirs, unaware that her hand is grasping
the worn fabric of a pillowcase. The sun is milk-white,
harsh. Faces squint at the sky, and at each other.
They are ground quickly, perceptibly, to dust.