Blankets of Bark
Point north, north where they walk
in long blankets of curled bark,
dividing a line in the sand,
smelling like cracked shell,
desert wind, river where they left you
calling wolves from the hills,
a list of names
growling from within the whirlwind.
Woman from the north,
lost sister who clapped at rain clouds.
We were once there
holding lightning bolts
above the heads of sleeping snakes.
Woman, sister, the cave wants our skin back,
it wants to shake our legs free from salt
and untwist our hair into strands of yarn
pulled rootless from the pocket of a man
who barks when he is reminded of the setting sun.
At 5 A.M. crickets gather in the doorway,
each of them a handful of smoke,
crawling to the house of a sleeping woman,
breaking rocks on the thigh of man stretching,
ordering us to drop coins into her shadow,
saying, “There, that is where we were born.”
Born with leaves under our coats,
two years of solitude,
the sky never sailed from us,
we rowed toward it,
only to find a shell,
and a weeping woman.
“Blankets of Bark” is from Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003).