for Frances

When I was young, wind blew prairie grass to sky
over the fields at dawn

meadowlarks to wheat, bright as summer hair
and in the evening

sun fell red off the lid of land.

He fell in love with me, the man
though I was a girl, I was old enough to know

and I laughed, his pallid hand leafing bible pages
for a blessing.

I married another.
My wedding gown lay tissued

in a drawer for years, bodice, skirt
growing smaller.

The winter I fell ill he visited me
bearing prayer in his quiet hand.

My children ran to open the door
and snow lay over the garden.



Red River

for Tina Fontaine
                in memoriam

The river
your cradle
of wrapped reeds
after the death
of you

bring God
in peace
to the drowned
of your eyes

bring God
in peace
to the flood-
of your stopped heart

child so little

child so little

on land


No White Sail, No Sun

Supper time, you’re off—where?
a boat in the Bay?
truant again, last class
before winter break
afternoon grey
as the rail yard shortcut
to another side of town

To learn about God
from a minister
who signs for the deaf
and who leaves the office
by dark, story waiting
in his hands of a storm
flinging waves into the boat
where Jesus sleeps

But you’re not in a boat
you lie on track grass
thrown out of the world
by a freight train
you didn’t hear

In your backpack
a photo of the minister
who ends up
signing your funeral
his hands waving
into the unbelieving air
trying to wake Jesus.