What the Nighthawk Sees
After she has climbed The Hundred Steps
on her knees, the girl turns to the green-night moon
to slake her thirst. Her face drawn long
by the weight of shadows. Constellations are frozen
in carnival slots, except in the western sky where a fish
travels across the horizon, a motherless child, waiting.
She remembers the grandmother in the mask maker's shop,
heavy body on the bench by the open door,
a broken cello draped in faded blankets.
Her father's ghost has followed her here; she smells tobacco,
hears the crunch of boot-heels, the humming
of familiar songs. The girl's throat is a stone, a knot
of sour wood. She raises a red scarf in steady wind,
spreads offerings of blue corn, in concentric circles,
sings a lullaby to the fish that is shrinking small
at the fringe of the sky. Covering the corn, sweeping sand
to erase her footprints, she backs toward the edge of the Mesa.
The fish wiggles, caught in the treetops at the edge of the world.
Copyright © 2003
Lynn Pattison lives Michigan. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, Out of Line, Peregrine, and the Mid-American Poetry Review, among others. She is a 2003 recipient of an Irving S. Gilmore
Emerging Artist Grant.
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