After my young mother tosses
a sleeping kitten into the dryer
with a basketful of my father’s
laundry, she bows over the kitchen sink
for hours, her long hair hanging
like water frozen from a faucet.
She drowns his shirts, twists
the bleached sleeves between
her raw fists, like the myth
of the crane wife curling over a loom,
weaving white bolts her poor
husband could sell.
When he discovered her, plucking
her own feathers to spin
into cloth, she flew away—
We tried to wrangle the newborn kittens,
but with paraffin eyes they wandered
under sofas and woodpiles,
and sometimes we found them dead
and piecemeal, the mother cat leaving only
what she couldn’t swallow.
At nightfall, resisting our pleas
for red apples she’d be forced to core
and portion with a knife,
my mother piles the still pink-tinged
shirts onto the front lawn.
As headlights flood the driveway
she slips her arms inside shirttails,
an origamic wingspan answering
wind, answering the whooping calls.
Letter to Tippi Hedren
Remember after Hitch said enough pretending,
let’s put real birds in, how you went on with your life,
strolled past two crows pecking dunes of cornmeal
off a muffin pan in the street. You didn’t gauge
their caws too close to a conversation or conspiracy.
All this time I’ve looked to you to confirm
the numbers of seabirds, the laughing gulls,
low-hoverers ever closer to the hand’s stale baguette.
Please don’t admit now that you can’t be sure.
When geese stop traffic, loosed upon the world
on my morning commute, or when I count forty-seven
hummingbirds at the feeder, keep the truth to yourself.
Allow me my awe, my sweet joy when a hawk lands
on the hood of a car, graceful and intended as a leaf.
Light, Lamb, Follower
My love offered to write my name—
a single kanji character—
the brush cigared in his teeth
And now I can’t remember
what they meant,
night-ink comets and comet tails.
But at midnight, my three sisters
already pinned to his walls,
he dashed off my mother:
Lynn in Japanese means
grove of trees—
and I stood inside it
bushels and bushels of them,