[from Gibbons Ruark’s A Program for Survival, 1971]
The car works the road into a lather
Of dust that falls through the glittering lens
Of sky till the world is washed by another
Weather. Trees that shivered their black bones open
Into flapping leaf-tents, the thick shade spreads
And fills the cross-work shadows of branches.
Sunken water rises and inflates the heads
Of mushrooms as the earth’s stiff sponge eases
Under my feet and the warm grass prickles.
I come to the flowers that tell me to turn
Down the breezy tunnel of trees until
The teeth of the fence turn white and turn
Me again and I am through the loosening
Gate and kneeling at the spring. I feel them
Watch me from the porch where they are talking,
Rocking. The sweet mist rises to the rim
Of the bricked-in hollow. I take the stone
Steps one at a time, clinging to the mossy
Side till every flicker of sun is gone
And I cup my hands to swallow the chilly
Spout springing from the bottom. I can hear
Dry birds’ voices babble down from the grass
And I dip my face again in the water.
They are calling. Before they call the last
Time I press my ear to the cooling
Wall and listen. I go up into the sun.
One is in the white swing, two are rocking.
I climb the steps to where they rock me one
By one in the bony hollows of their laps
And brush my cheek with their papery lips.