If this small human testament
completes its odyssey
clears the curtains of fiery meteors
Chin on paws the night sleeps
a huge dark animal breathing
as earth keeps time breathing
I am ironing the dress in which I ran from the prom
I am ironing my favorite dresses of long ago
I am ironing the dresses I did not have
Lillian has just arisen from her chair.
She has gone into her garden to commune with snails
to answer the birds' questions.
Because you were writing your poems backward
an ancient alphabet
from right to left as in mirrors
O the white towns with picket fences,
and the green lawns, in the blue hills -
the courthouse bells are tolling, tolling
I had thought the tree
was alive with birds
hearing the fury
of so many small wings
Someone is speaking a lost language.
It is the music of Villa-Lobos.
I try to remember: where was I