I would draw you a map if I could.
A drawn map endures.
Is that why there is none?
She took me out there the first time.
Her mother at the door.
Her father gone.
Her mother said her father was hunting.
All the windows were open
and the door ajar.
The wind was not blowing.
What was he hunting?
The sand had stopped: no more drifting.
He was hunting rattlesnakes.
It was a long way to walk to find rocks.
There was no water.
On the map there would appear
shaped hills at this place,
nothing else, or very little.
Her mother waits with her daughter,
the one who has lived.
She sits me at the table in his place.
She says he is too old to catch the snakes.
He will die if he persists.
It is given to a Mexican wife
to expect dying alone
until her children come home.
Why else would I fear for her daughter?
All I have is inside, waiting.
She says I can use her hands
if my fingers grow gnarled
like a rooster’s claws.
She says I can see through her eyes,
sleep inside her nest.
I tell her I can do nothing but leave
to better my lot
and hers, if she waits.
Her mother asks her to find her father.
Out there she wears huaraches.
I was born in Mexico, you know;
and I: No, I believed it was here.
That is all past, she swears.
She is not talking about the stirrups
or the bleeding
or the worry she had made a mistake.
I could not kiss her where I wanted.
She was leaving Seattle, the sad bed.
We would try again
another day, in the dry air
if I would kiss her lips only,
if I could lie still beside her,
if I would go with her
over the mountains to find her father.
Rain is not good for me, she swore
on her rosary.
I will shield her from the rain.
No need to mind a little storm,
it blows over.
We go a long way home,
to the peak of Mount Takhoma.
On roads that follow the fall of her hair,
then down. The Lazarus flowers
bloom. People say nothing new,
do not even stare.
It would be best to live by the ocean,
I offer. How would we stay alive?
The rain there intoxicates,
I start, she stops me, I want to go home
while there is time.
She knows the way the coast curves
on her map. In the Rattlesnakes
at least you can see the shadows
over the hills before light falls.
(17 July 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander