Bedtime Story for the Bruised-Hearted
The trees were all women once,
fleeing a god whetted with lust
until their fathers changed them, bound
their bodies in bark, and still the god took:
a branch to crown his own head,
the reeds to hold his breath.
How like them, our fathers,
those small gods who unearthed
their children with rage,
who scored the bark
and bent the branch
to bind their bodies with our own.
Tonight, my love, we are free
of men, of gods, and I am a river
against you, drawn to current and eddy,
ready to make, to be unmade.
We come from abundance, each season
bowed with rain. But here is the earth,
eager to flame, the air like salt, thirsty
even for the water we carry
in our skin. New wanderers in this land,
we do not know how to wait for water,
have never waited so long for rain
that every tree died, left to stand tinder.
For now, I watch the shoulder burn,
drive through the smoke that blots the mountains,
and holds the old yolk of sun. I know nothing
of fire, its reach, its spread, know only
that every body makes its own ash,
manages its own diminishing.