When I try to see my mother in this world,

standing in a dusty field, confused

and taking tentative steps like a child—


when I try to see her there, after

she’s climbed out of the car she’d driven

over the shallow ditch miles from home—


when I try to see her there, wondering

why she’s not at the store or home,

maybe wondering where her son is—


when I try to see her there,

I can hear nothing

but small birds in high branches


and the distant barking of a dog

at the edge of an unseen fence.

He’s heard the wheels’ thump, creak


of old shocks, maybe the horn. He’s barking

at what he can’t see. When I try to see

my mother there, I hear the barks


becoming fainter, more intermittent

as the dog begins to understand

that nothing’s happened, no one’s coming.


They made a sort of music with their feet,
a seesaw slapping as they hit the ground
in time with undead, resurrected years—
the monochrome past of sepia suffering.
They made their music ring in children’s ears
all day and night with its staccato beat,
then made the children make another sound,
something like an orchestra for the king
with mami, papá, dios, retch, and wail
for notes. It quivered through the king’s rich heart.
Now they make another music with bones
crushed and sifted through screens, a whispered trill
that sounds like burning notes. A sort of art
of no remains. Not names. Not even stones.


Of course they’re only dreams: the face of God,

the daughter drawn from constellation flames,

an ever-present sky devoid of void,

the peace you hoped your mother found at home.

They speak of nothing meaningful as mud.

Sometimes, though, you wish you could buy those dreams,

accept that world of elder men who toyed

with callow minds, who shook their heavy tome

of answers in your face.

                                        Beneath the sod,

mute bodies lie below their stone-carved names.

Sometimes you lie in dreams until you’re cloyed

with doubt of doubt.

                                  Keats lies unnamed in Rome.

Your body roils with air and earth alloyed.

Of air we make dreams.

                                        Of earth we make loam.