Aug 172011

Tonight, can I step like starlight, everywhere at once? In the small cabin my compatriot lies sleeping, heavy. I do not know where her dreams are flying her under the quilted comforter, squared and colored as a farmfield. I go buoyantly beyond the floodlit pavement of our campground and get to downy pine needles shaken into the night’s layers of black coal dust. It is like walking on the backs of sleeping chickens, the pine smell as sharp as the scented Christmastree cut-out that swings from the rearview. Now the moon is pulling individual trees from black waters into the skyline. I hear the stream that we had crossed over hastily on our way into camp coming toward me in the dark, its bridge as short as an unrolled fire-escape ladder dangling from the second floor of a burning house. I swing myself around the rude log bannister and land in a talus of highway gravel with a crunchy splash. The cold water wakes my foot up completely, and for some reason I begin to cry. Here, in the shadowed dell, the moon-water is all silver snakes swaying away from me, their hisses as indecipherable as the gospels. If I let a tear down into the brightening stream, would the snakes carry it on their backs until I am healed?

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