The Danger Age
A woman with no left-hand ring
is like the rain—is like a name
wasted on a comet, lost
in the dark end of an ellipse
or the well of a succulent,
safe from genealogy.
The dogs of genealogy
suffer at the door, pink tongues parched
and footpads raw from digging.
Nice girl, Lady; lie down gentle—
there's water in your dreams, and death
turns back if you have daughters.
Riding September, we daughters
burst against the dusk—our mother,
a June bird with a steel band,
follows the sunlight south and south,
transmitting names that only she
remembers. Will we return?
Will our drop-shaped bodies return?
She will band us by the finger
and receive us when we fall
from memory to augury—
the water that quenches mourning
and the name that ends us all.

Cyd Harrell, 1998.
Published In Oxygen Quarterly No. 19. Further rights reserved.
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