His glance raised my lips
to his. I felt his reflection
on the inside of my bones.
Waves pull and are pulled under
the moon, and spill apart.
I never saw him again.
I forgot the permeable stars,
the night listening and the spin
of the Great Bear, until just now
walking the road covered in pink feldspar
split from the broken mica hills
and above, the sandhill cranes hooting.
Ah—the years lost in washouts
and old water patterns in sand.
How did I let slip the grace
that made a wing from that one glance.
I apologize to the cranes,
their determined flight
across miles of monofields.
I apologize to the swollen cataracts
sunk to a drip across granite
in the dry summer. I apologize
to the blade cutting oats,
the log cut for shelter,
the food half-eaten on the table,
the stars that follow regardless
of the engines thrown down in the dirt,
the illusions that obscured
the long-ago heat, the beat
of its pulse ringing in my hands
that touched the lips that touched
my bones that brought grief
and betrayal, time—
a measurement unlimited,
specified, repeated, destroyed,
and the migrating, the wandering.
This poem first appeared in a somewhat different form in “Poesis.”