From my mother
I learned how wine swims in the vein,
what happens when the vaquita dies,
how to boil meat from bone
to make chicken soup.
Like her, often I am stirred from sleep
by thought, not dream.
A frenzied rap at the thin door a beckon
to follow her into the summer garden,
we listen to the birds—
nighthawk in the oak,
mockingbird in the underbrush.
We busy ourselves wondering what dark place
becomes the bed of the crow.
In these moments,
we are suddenly aware that our hearts are beating—
there is something larger than ourselves.
And knowing the fragility of it all,
we speak the language of mortality.
By the heavy glass doors
you kneel, naked, to gather scattered clothes,
your dark silhouette a shadow
against the violet dawn.
I know this shape your body makes
against the sky.
A leaf falls from the black oak tree.
I see a flash of rust-red—the robin’s breast
before the window. You brush the hair
from your forehead.
Somewhere along the avenue a machine
and I watch the steady rise and fall
of your bare chest.
I hold myself back, only to reason—
were I a dog curled in your lap,
would you have held me then?
Will you remember me
when you are gone, as I
as the first snow falls?
At your passing of the bedside:
your dimpled skin, the smell of sea salt.
I turn away from faint rustlings
in the small kitchen,
the quiet unlatch of the door.
Bri Bruce holds a BA in literature from University of California at Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared most recently in Northwind and The Wayfarer Journal.