That Sunday at the zoo I understood the child I
never had would look like this: stiff-fingered
spastic hands, a steady drool, and eyes in cages
with a danger sign. I felt like stone myself
the ancient line curved inward in a sunblind
stare. My eyes were flat. Flat eyes for tanned
young couples with their picture-story kids. Heads
turned our way but you’d learned not to care. You
stood tall as Greek columns, weather-streaked
face bent toward the boy. I wanted to take his hand,
hallucinate a husband. He whimpered at my touch.
You watched me move away and grabbed my other
hand as much in love as pity for our land-locked
town. I heard the visionary rumor of the sea. What
holds the three of us together in my mind is something
no one planned. The chiseled look of mutes.
A window shut to keep out pain. Wooden blank of doors.
That stance the mallet might surprise
if it could strike the words we hoard for fears
galloping at night over moors through convoluted bone.
The strange uncertain rumor of the sea.
Used with permission by Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org