The Women of Kingfisher
		Dusk. Before the House of Arum,
Hay, half-moons, and hay. A fire  
floats like linseed oil across the horizon.  
Homelessness. A sacred grove.  
Women gathered with birdseed and clay.

first chorus
For what you ask us, if we hear you right—  
Then it must be winter. True,
there are things we’ve seen not made of this earth:  
in the ice, the strange cry of a calf  
clings to the river’s borders. But young  
is not the strangest beloved, in the old fields,  
on the old roads, where no one watches  
the wind but watches its trail— the tail  
of a Blue Norther, Lord, known to knot an ewe’s wool  
before it’s shorn, fastest in its extinguishing. No,  
we were not quiet in our old hearts.  
In the sudden cold of our bedchambers and blackened  
noons, in the night’s known but exquisite spying.

second chorus
Ten years since the first winds walked  
across these yards. Ten years,  
the woman who watched her husband walk west,
watching the Cimarron’s water— And we,
the wives and mothers of strangers,  
of men who watched their farms and families  
fail, the men who spent crops  
for hills and salt water— Who should say  
the night knows only their bleakest, ghost-filled places?  
We saw the night beat into our strongest  
barns—yes, bleating— our daughters shrouded  
in linen and hay. Our men now dead of Dust  
Pneumonia, our men now dread as the cattle’s faces.

		A speaker steps forward from the first chorus,
adorned in deerskin and face paint.  
She faces the women, hearing some sound beyond the clearing—
a distant wailing, from somewhere within the woods.

I know a man mauled  
by the first kicks of a calf in Spring. Sister,  
he said, Sister— there are spaces  
where the water runs the length of a sober man.

first chorus
He said, Sister, a sober man.

He said, Sister, there are rivers  
where the calves crawl like crabs across the sand,  
rivers which covet the coins  
placed upon men’s eyes, and walk  
with a man’s children, and drink with the man’s wife.

second chorus
He said, Lord, the man’s wife.

He said, Lord, there is water  
where the wind eats
the sparse and nameless things—  its secret looks,  
Lord, the laugh of lean pasture,  
and riverbeds red as the cattle’s racked meat.

A grave and curious quiet, Lord!  
What carvings in dirt and death are these?  
What wind wound through the ash and apple trees?  
And hieratic, holy, the hymnal woods—
What water prepares our coming? What rains  
will spare our fields? We’ve known what the river  
finds in its feeble sleep: When there was winter,  
there was mistle-thrush. God-rush. There was thistle.
Copyright © 2004–2023 Memorious