Dusks a blue smolder of memory:
Your grandfather fades behind the creak
of the barn door, mouth trembling with sermons
lodged forever behind his tongue. You breathe
dust and drink the well’s rust-water,
then slog in the heat of horses,
saddled by noon rains, mud choking the yield.
Nights, back in the stanch purity of those rooms,
with soap-burned hands you wrap your head
with words: sorghum and lantern, cellar and sin.
Then down into image, the earth’s nightlong gift:
Your mother’s scarred hands fondling the plump coinage
of tomatoes, the pox of aphids washed immaculate.
Her gloves uncoiling barbed wire, gauzing the reddening scrape.
The hiss and warmth of embers, cedar-smoke’s tang.
Always she dims again beneath black water
as mornings wrest you from sleep like a breech foal
torn loose, shivering in the hay.