They say an elephant never forgets
but I am an elephant losing her mind
which means of course
which is the curse of old aging.
Memory is where
the colors of childhood
still glow with crystalline bright
of bloody Christmases.
(mom chased daddy with the KNIFE)
Colors now fade
to gray gray gray
(the tones of my hair)
my predawn musings.
And do smells really remind me of home?
Of grandma’s applesauce simmering on the stove?
Of Tammalee’s lemon meringue?
Of fresh bagels, ripe peaches,
farmer cheese fresh from the dairy
arriving under my father’s arm wrapped in
brown waxy paper?
Now my husband––the family chef—
is losing his taste
and his smell—woe to me—
and where are his keys?
Can he sense the delicious freshness
of our baby-powdered grandbaby boy?
The elephant can’t lie in the cave of the willow’s branches
she struggles to rise
but feels the earth quaking
through her footpads.
Now my footpads need protection from the hard ground.
Back then I ran over pebbled roads to make
my soles hard so I might
tiptoe through the forest
in stealthy silent hide-and-seek.
The elephant smashes the tree branches
as she eats them,
padding steadily on grand and silent feet.
I wake to watch the sunrays bend around Kulshan,
its snow-cone summit generating windstorms
of hope and energy—
the halcyon banner of the new day.
The sun emerges from behind the mountain
and obliterates its bridal veil
with sun and power and glare
It blanches Shukshan and its sisters
for hours and angels—till the rainclouds
move in and quench its power.
A boy ascends on waxwings,
falters and bends to the earth’s pull,
then tumbles, lifeless, onto rock firmament.
I search for him inside myself,
hidden behind the musical wisdom
of the bugle I dream—my clarion players
call me to them with notes of liquid lift and grace
and yearning, sweet desire.
Beneath my feet,
under needles and tree duff,
the syncytium thrums its symphony
I roam the paths
surrounded by fragrant, rotting wood
steeped in drying forest scent
snail glister dries to paste
ash-blown sciroccos blanket the high canopy.
The Eternal Footman laughs from the browning sky,
peering at his game board
fungal hyphae twine fir tendrils,
chatter a muted wavelength.
the hydrostatic vertical river
that wets the air,
mosses dry, lichen shrivel:
apoptosis in a third dimension.
Come fall, the deluge scrubs trees, bares slopes,
mud obliterates hills and houses.
Rippled river bottoms suffocate.
Footman moves his piece: