The woman saves every heart- or wing-
shaped rock she finds, studding the mountain
with markers. When the babies don’t breathe,
when they arrive frail, small enough
to be cupped in a palm like a bird found
fallen from a nest, their dusky, blue-gray
heads too heavy for their bodies,
she nestles them down into the soft earth.
Even when there is little—just pulp,
a tuft of hair, once even a tooth, so peculiar—
the earth takes it tenderly. But for the woman,
the end comes in blood, nothing even
to bury. She delivers babies to the holy
wilderness of this mountain but bleeds
her own into cloth—no recognizable shape.
The woman can’t even make bones.
Burning her soaked and rusty clothes,
she hears a song in fire and farther off
a howl so mournful, it could be human.