Maybe you don’t know your own
ragged history, squawk and shards of glass.
Harridan, as if what you had hoped for
was a world in watercolor, tadpoles
and toadstools erupting across your dustbowl.
I am the prophet of your landscape.
I can tell you like the psalms,
am what upon the earth
could breathe your reckoning.
You’ve spread here like slag,
while the mudslides and lunar shifts
tick off the minutes, the wind
bites through your demons.
Maybe you don’t know your future
coils inside just one word.
The word is underbelly to the soul,
blooming kernel, come to fruit.
Maybe you don’t know deep in your pith,
but I can see the children
of your follies waving up,
circus tents a-flapping.
Woman, as you are,
tides won’t spring across your plain.
Roads crawl with weeds, a desert
is half eaten by its wolves.
Truth answers, opens
the windows, floods
your creek beds with its mercy.
If you listen in its wake,
your name will complete itself.
will flitter through the narrow
dusk into night’s tomb.
Snake spines, fringe of music,
writhing roots, a cloudburst,
shatters of rain.
Come back to life.
I will wait. I’ll hold your hat,
as your soldier climbs forgiveness
to its peak, canceling out
You will rise toward me again,
tiny cells quenched, rushing matter.
The dustbowl bubbles,
one grain at a time.
Come away. Shake the dirt
from your eyes.
Always in the next town
there is singing.
Wendy Barnes' poems have appeared in journals such as Cargo (Paris), Faultline, and Painted Bride Quarterly. Her chapbook, So-Called Mettle, will be published by Finishing Line Press in December 2011.