A NIGHTMARE OF DAUGHTERS
This daughter is a mask of soap
to scratch with long nails.
This one I can wipe down
and write on again.
This daughter is ants
and thorny undergrowth.
This one is a drawing
in blue ink washed by rain.
Their matricidal raisin eyes,
their hair unwashed and wild.
Girls, there’s no way to stop
the wind bleaching your thighs.
Everything moves to the side
an inch and I lose my step.
No breeze, but the leaves tremble.
As animals run in my veins with furred feet,
my hostess preserves her astringent calm,
her solitude in my long company.
Her talent for silence is so developed
that, when she speaks, the rare syllables
catch in her throat like fish bones.
This evening, as we eat our omelet
of squirrel meat and sea birds’ eggs,
I think, but do not say,
that this must be what it was like
when people died remembering
only things they had seen themselves,
and those images died with them,
charcoal sketches of woodsmoke
in the air. I think, as the sun
burns down like oil on the water,
that we are living in the silence
between two histories.