Dream of the Father
How far has he sleep-walked?
His feet are sandaled with mud,
shins wrapped in rags
of moss, a twin-fan of bracken
scrapes his hip. His eyes are still
half open, wing-flickering.
The fingernails are talon-long,
lips chapped, but dark with dew.
The porch light gilds the sapling
rooted in his ankle cleft.
His knees creak and the stairs creak
and the dog gets up to bark
then lies down again. On his head
sits a laurel of pine needles, lop-sided.
In the bedroom his son is sweating,
feverish. He sits at his side
and they both wake up.
Looking for the Word
You spotted it in the burning bush
one winter, the letters incendiary.
And when you singed your hand the rain fell.
You pored over a deer's entrails for a sign
that pointed to itself. But here no equation
except the mathematics of maggots.
The owl opened up its head to you
through a gauze of pipesmoke and drums
but the owl knew its name, though it was not owl
and though it had no sense of the redundancy
of trees, had a different way of hearing every
scurry—even here you could not find the word.
And reaching past the skin of things, the signs,
you undo something, the language spilt
away, the syntax, the last delightful stop.