A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919

Two-year-old Virginia is missing
Her parents look throughout the tidy
Wooden house
Where yellow curtains glow
They go outside and peer
In the shady woods
Where a brook chuckles a sudden secret
And small shy forest mammals
Are gone to earth
Among the violets like watching eyes
And the bluewild brush
Smells of elephants and candour.
Mama and Papa seek amidst the shadows
Virginia’s soft fine hair of redwood
And foxes;
And then they process to the sunspread garden

And there finally they find her
Stumping amongst the scented
Cherry tomato vines:
In her left hand the salt shaker
In her right a hot bauble
Ready to be shaken on and munched.

This is how I see my mother
Underneath where people later tried
To comb her out and weave her
Into their own design:
She is a non-consulting seeker
Ready to go outside
She is an arrow born whistling
And what she knows or doesn’t know
Is barely in it. Politesse is helpful only
To keep the world from finding
That her soul
Is a wolf in celebration
A silent watcher with eyes
Owl-glaring. A clean, honed gem
Just some people can discover.
I don’t have to worry about my mother
She shakes her salt
She sits on a sun-warmed stone
She flies the route she’s finding as she flies it
She eats tomatoes
Like a noseful of lilies
Virgin as her shins of padded bone:
This baby-ancient, innocent as berries
Hanging where the light is cupped leaf-under
And shines for them alone.

Jan. ‘10