—after Alice Aycock
Tonight there is no wind, even the heat
is on its knees, and the moths laying eggs
on the side door are not being honest
with themselves. Though their enterprise
is beauty, the eggs will not last through
the rains, and so it goes.
A slug, fresh as cinnamon, steps through
the snuffed coals of my stove.
Such an obedient servant,
humble licorice, never making a sound,
not like the moths who rattle the porch,
sleeping ears waking at a candle’s touch.
Whose life is this anyway?
There’s no trace of our coming.
We’re all in the same province,
same slug-under-foot, same marsh-in-clouds.
The answer has the wrong sow by the lug,
as far as I can tell. I’m writing a letter
and it begins I doubt not but you have heard
of my late worthy master’s death,
but how do I finish a page from a life
that could not have been mine?
I never did get it right.
I can feel the absence most evenings,
around now, slim moon behind the rain,
the black bear handsome across the creek.
I had a lamb, once. Earlier, before history.
It did not become a sheep.
It had only one ear and was taken from me,
as all fathers took then. In that taking I saw
that the creature of another’s soul
was not mine to know.
A dead face appeared at my window
each night. A face that could fit
between a handful of leaves. I concentrated
on its mouth, the living mouth filled
with grass and moths and small breath and light.