November. Grey cloud smudges. Early light:
a pale yellow slab squashes the skyline.
A few crisped leaves hang from the trees;
old parchments curled, script fading out.
Woodland straddles the hump-backed walls:
stones that must have taken two men to lift
and place, and rain and snow to shift and settle;
fences for the land that was entered and taken
as the Nipmuc, Pocumtuc and Wampanoag died.
Broken, then left, when the money moved on.
Over the discards, the Earth creeps back.
When the sun rises, it plants itself in my back;
warm, between the shoulders, nestling -
and whatever’s still fleshed glows in the light.
Days like this, you cut the choke, anchor the skid
– and drop through the crust that the years
laid down. You can call, and look to be heard.
So Zoe sits calm. Slowly, softly, she uncovers
her rape. Aged nine and again at eighteen. Pinned
down. 'I didn’t wear lipstick, do hair or nothin’.’
Mid-sixties now, her tones barely waver
as they sketch out the man with the gun.
‘He said I owed it to him.’ Our space tightens –
into a life of locked doors – her voice inching –
as if on one leg – the other, a girl’s, in a ditch
somewhere – until words fall. Then silence
holds us. Light feels guilty; slips away.
We begin to find feet.
Outside it's cold and clear. Black sky sprawls.
My spine, a tree standing behind me.
Heart beats the vastness, on fire in the snow.
The moon’s amazement.
It slaps me awake,
strong and hard as the night of America.