Bread

We walk out for the view,
a mug of Irish tea and the paper,
to celebrate the old miracles:
the crust of the Hogback, red as brick,
even with the weather coming in,
its gnarled ridges alongside the new grass,
the gun-blue lake
filling and emptying.

Heat and water and milled earth
did this landscape’s cooking.
You weren’t thinking of them
when you baked this morning,
mixing seed and almond flour,
made a well and poured the liquid in,
paid no attention to the other magic —
that’s a poet’s job:
those massive ridges buckling in the fire,
or the snowmelt topping up
the bowl of the reservoir
they submerged a whole town for,
drowned the trees
and the everyday miracles of memories /
a weathered sign
is all that’s left of Stout.

Your bread sits by the window, cooling,
beaten and belching,
and breathing out.

Driving the Dams at Night

In the day, so early even
that the red rock
had not yet caught fire,
still tindered politely
in the jaws of the sun,
a man runs in the bike lane,
slow and measured like a pro.

I’ve seen him from behind
the last three days,
my underpowered car
doing thirty-five up the hill.
Here, even fit cyclists
struggle on the dams,
seven miles of steep foothills
along a gaunt reservoir
below the Rocky Mountains.

He wears an ugly woolen cap
and baggy pants.
I wonder what brings him
clockwork out:
is it the smell of sage
in the morning wet?
The huge expanse of plains
mapped out below?
The greening of the grass?
The earth awake?
But he never moves his head
for the view.
His view is other things.

I’ve seen the same labored gaze
in the mule deer on the drive,
raising their great cupped ears
to the sound of the car,
and then back to graze.
It’s what they do.

At night the runners and the deer
have stepped away
and the car’s high beams scan the road.
I’ve had a little wine.
Not enough to blow over the limit
but enough to know,
on the edges of the rural road,
still gathered,
are all the hunted, hurt, and haunted
specters of the world.

Magpie on the Reservoir Wall

Slow, driver.
I’m all that’s left after the thrill
of homecoming and nesting,
in my black and white,
skipping into the road
for car kill, to pull
at squirrel skin and
your suddenly toneless thoughts.

I’ve come into focus again,
tailtip glistening
like spilled oil / I’ve remembered
where I keep
the bones of winter.

But they were always there,
weren’t they?
while you summered,
distracted by the full green,
the snapdragons, the pink petunias
hung on the railing,
the spending cloud.

It’s more pensive now.
Can you feel it?
Even the escarpment frowning over
the reservoir stays in,
writing its journal
with cuttlefish ink and sienna.

And while it was not
what you wanted, this year:
you didn’t have her,
the pool was less clear,
the work was unsatisfactory,
you aged ungracefully —
whatever it was.

I’ve watched you.
I’m here to help.
If you let me,
we’ll pick clean
your memories, too.