It’s early January in northeastern Indiana, crows
on the roof ridge of the barn. Just beyond the house,
a row of maples, sap humming, not yet bullfrogged
into full song, just athump, thump, thump, in those stiff, dark bodies.
Turns out the power to heal is as transgressive as the power
to open jar lids. Warm-water tricks, counter taps
can’t loosen anything at all. Just so much numb calculation,
hauled up against windbreak cladding.
A lonely gunshot, halting glossy green flight, challenges law
with every distraught call. For you have been redeemed
faster than the night-clam, pearly jaw hinged
by star-teeth. Faster than fever taking the roads
one by one, until they glisten, all mute black-ice.
Faster than the skin’s change, fingerling cracks
in the frail earth.
The midwife, plunging her hands into the sink,
finds she cannot feel any of her fingers, cannot sense
the expected apparition. Only the talons
of an owl on her shoulder, a realization
that preparation is insufficient, that tools are
insignificant. There must be insurance, there must be
a network of accountability.
Instead, only bloodscent in the anteroom,
pipes frozen shut, green apple wood burning,
icicles like a dumb drumline—dripping their tat-a-tat-tat.
White fields meeting white sky, meeting the strangely-returned eye
which has come to mourn its parentage, its history,
to ask for holiness, find none.