The Gravity of Others
“Tide: Stresses exerted in a body by the gravitational action of another . . . . Every body in the universe raises tides, to some extent, on every other.” —McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 5th edition
Raven, is my mother
in there? I whisper. Fog holds her to a limb, beak, a black knife held to morning’s grey throat, sky as indifferent as it should be. Filigree of poppy leaves breaks the clay, earth opening, a leaking sieve more than a gash, a wound I keep wanting to remember. Raven answers with her wings, pumping wind, then absence.
Wild hare have left their crumbling pearls between dunes. Blonde sea grass cuts and grabs, little pearl of my own blood, sticky then smeared with sand. Don’t cry. How many times did she say that?—catching my tears in an empty Coke bottle, showing me the wet stain on a handkerchief. I stopped crying then, so not to waste some vital fluid we shared, her cheeks streaked almost daily. I wash the red crust from my ankle, let in the sting of saltwater. Fog purls up, veins of purple clouds heavy on the horizon, as the storm shivers then stalls, holding back its rain.
Who can find that other place— clouds torn into a blue field, sun burning dew from orange petals, the invisible life cleaning delicate bone, hollow shaft of feather, knot of hair? When someone you love dies, for so long you want to follow. Every month, more than a year now, I’ve walked barefoot on a flat, open beach, cold Pacific pushing in, shallow rush of creek water falling down, joining. Sometimes I count dead birds, spread their mangled wings into a still flight in sand. No, not yet. A raven can live on air, and I can see where this is all going. No, not yet. Here. When I look back, my footprints, crooked, weave the sea foam, some places you might think I walked into the tide and it kept me.