– Rosebud Ben-Oni –

girls grow slowly here
in greying eyelet dresses
under molted mocking birds

outside in rocking chairs
we mark time in losing it
even the eagle, a widow

shed from distant high winds,
has forgotten continuous flight
inseparable from the horizon

a promise has been broken
under junipers camphor lingers
the only pioneers, strangers


they cross without shame
sway like young cattails,
swarm mosquitos and matted beds
of water hyacinth and hydrilla

we awaken with pond in our legs

they swim in the sulphurous lake
wrapped up in water moccasins
their grandmother was our mothers’ keeper,

she sang of jaguars hidden
and howling in guaje trees, how
by lanterns outside a damaged Cathedral

she baptized her daughters in rainwater,
and razed her husband, the ashes
fed to our mothers in molasses

so we are more dust
than embers, more moss than men
at night we hear a new truck in the distance,

her laughter burns bright eternal poinsettias
weeds have overrun the ranches here
seagulls loom over drought land

she will be the last
we will stomp her out yet
we will stomp her out yet