You are not of our tribe.
You have not paddled down
the long water.
You have not walked
five days in the half mind of hunger
from the calendar stone
through the old graves -
scar tissue of the earth -
to reach the night of fire.
You would not recognize
our king. It cannot be spoken
why we obey.
You do not know the change in light
that calls the snake
to the rock.
High in the whining pines
we gather orange fungus,
its palms open to the sky.
When we call down the raven
our skulls resonate
as delicately as flutes.
We are few. Our memory
serves no purpose. I cannot teach you
the songs that carve our faces.
Cold transfigures the highway home,
eye-wide beneath a pewter sky.
This gliding by frost-combed fields
lifts sparrows into swooping flight.
The river, paved with ice, blinks fire.
Glassy hedges dot-dash light.
Hush rushes under newborn night
toward horizon: rose, incarnadine -
Out of the silent grieving dark,
a surprising glory given, seen.
First appeared in The Mad Poets Review, January 2005