When I saved a fawn
Held it like a child
And returned it to its mom
It didn't seem so wild.
—Photo and Poem by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
The lady in the Gold Panner ad is mother
to no one except five dogs, three horses, 14 sheep
including this year’s crop of lambs.
The sheep come to her call, eat sweet-
cob from her hand.
How could she let even one child go?
Too many lambs. She sold us two.
We brought them home, turned them out—
still bawling for their mother—
to pasture with our five sheep. Two and five,
they bleated back and forth, and then
the five went back to grazing.
Now the two stand at my kitchen door,
waiting for their mother.
By default, I guess, waiting for me.
A silent house. No brothers or sisters,
no dog, no indoor cat to stalk the cuckoo
in its clock, that ticked and measured
by brass weights. Father read a journal
without moving his lips. From the kitchen,
a quiet stir of utensils, spoon stroking
the inside of a bowl; a knife making
rhythmic chop or dice; stoke of wood-
stove, flutter of cookbook-pages as she
checked how much sage or thyme. A lid
clicking the stockpot shut to simmer
a wordless supper. Maybe she sang
before I knew her.
SITTING AT NIGHT ON THE FRONT PORCH
I'm here, on the dark porch, restyled in my mother's chair.
10:45 and no moon.
Below the house, car lights
Swing down, on the canyon floor, to the sea.
In this they resemble us,
Dropping like match flames through the great void
Under our feet.
In this they resemble her, burning and disappearing.
And I'm here, sizing the dark, saving my mother's seat.
There was a sunlit absence.
The helmeted pump in the yard
heated its iron,
in the slung bucket
and the sun stood
like a griddle cooling
against the wall
of each long afternoon.
So, her hands scuffled
over the bakeboard,
the reddening stove
sent its plaque of heat
against her where she stood
in a floury apron
by the window.
Now she dusts the board
with a goose's wing,
now sits, broad-lapped,
with whitened nails
and measling shins:
here is a space
again, the scone rising
to the tick of two clocks.
And here is love
like a tinsmith's scoop
sunk past its gleam
in the meal-bin.
People are passing; I look in passing at them.
Look, how the light comes down through them: they glow.
Once, I grasped at one. Oh, it was sweet.
It had nothing to do with me, or anyone.