When the Waters Rise or Storm Descends
Each family will have gathered
what is durable and light.
How far will the little ones walk
before they ask to be carried.
What else will you set down.
When are we going to be there.
Even our grief will not put out the fire.
There it is, burning, lighter and lighter,
singing into a mouthful of air.
By the third time I checked on her, she had no eyes,
just two white sockets where they should have been.
A pair of glossy beetles, oblong, paddled in the motes,
as I stooped in the corner of the crooked coop—
an old playhouse turned garden shed, now roost.
Outside, her seven sisters clucked and scoured the dirt;
here on the sawdust shaving floor, her sidelong corpse,
legs stretched out to empty claws. Discarded prop.
Lighter than the real thing, I lifted it away,
the feathers flat and brittle as a clutch of bedding hay.
At dark, a cottontail burst forth to lead us out the gate,
to where I set her down for what would come and offered thanks.
Thanks that I could practice by flashlight before my turn
toward home. Still in the dark, and willing not to learn.
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