Kevin McIlvoy: Cairn

Alone at river crossings I privately ask
that I may start my life from scratch.
I’m grateful no one can hear
my voice sounding any different than
the murmuring surface carrying
brisk shadows of branches and
birds downstream, sun-stunned clouds
that have been
              glimmering there.
              That’s the scream of a hawk,
I told my two boys. That’s the cry
of prey. The tearing of meat. 
Here — two last sticks of gum. Make 
them last. Sweet! — am I right?
With smaller steps, we’ll stumble
less. (We could cut our lawn by
walking through with all those
burs on our
               shoes and socks.)
In your hair is pollen enough for
two pollen-bombs. Don’t set them off
by singing the wrong rock song. Let’s
not clean our glasses while the air is
so golden. Squint to see if your                                                                                 
eyes change your questions. Look — on 
the back of your own hands:
you’re turning to dusk.
                            (Only joking!)
Try one more cast before we go.
This I guess is not the time or place for
us. Wasps live here! The kind in the petroglyphs.
Leave wasps alone. They build in rain – they’ll
mistake us for storms. We’ll make a cairn at
this crossing, so next time we
can see how the river took it down
or shook the stones but
                           let them stand.
And anyway, snakes live here. Snakes!
Some people say they come in groups of six
and eight as a matter of habit. Some say,
“That’s bullshit!” (Don’t say “bullshit,” okay?)
And, see, they make a raking shape in
the leaf-ghee mud whenever they
return to this bank where their young
                  were born and were borne away.

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