Zoë White: Work

I didn’t see mountains until I was eighteen
and then I thought, oh good. That’s what
it looks like: the shattered edge
of earth measuring itself against all
that impossible sky. I used to dream I’d run
off the edge of things and miss the ground.
Against that I’d put mountains: they’ll cut
your hand and dirty your face
but I admire their precision.
I come from a prairie state: when it rains,
what we walk on smudges into what
we breathe. Last night I dreamed
I walked to Faribault for a hair cut.
I went the back way. Red-winged
blackbirds on all the fences and the road
was straight and firm.
Today all day I will try to order
other people’s words around.
They pay me for this, though I can’t think why.
My dad says birds are coming back
to the lakes. He says canvasback, grebe, Muscovy.
Words on a page: bird clatter on the shoreline.
No, that’s wrong: words run off in the dark
like dogs after deer and I
am on the lit porch listening
to their sweet, insistent barking, moving
always higher up, deeper in.

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