Goldfish in a sauerkraut jar,
some goldfish big as bottles are
in ponds.



I leave at Thoreau Elementary a little girl
and a son who’d rather build a cabin in the woods
than spend his day in school.

Then Sara, walking up to Calico Farm,
turns back with a freshly fallen leaf for Baby Amy.

And I drive
under oaks and blushing maples
undress in the misty wind.
Yellow leaves fly
with a cloud of finches.

like a naked tree.
Baby, sleeping in her carseat,
clings to one leaf.

DAY THREE (9/13/01)

This morning we woke up to find
our cat had bit a mouse in half.
I never saw her kill before.

So now I’m sure there is a spirit in the air.
I worry that the earth’s collected pain
has reached a rolling boil.

But then I think of some three thousand souls
recently released,
gentle ones.
They will add their spirits to the air.
They were not warriors,
but workers in words and numbers.
They did not die with a curse on their lips.


“This is our tsunami,” the Biloxi mayor says.
Mom and I are watching TV in her hospital room.
All we can find is Hurricane Katrina.

Today Mom almost died. She doesn’t know that yet.
Tomorrow she will get the pacemaker
that won’t let her heart slow down again,
slow down almost to a stop.

But first we have to get through tonight.
I have to get through a night when she turns
evil eyes on me.
“Psst! Psst! Go to bed!
Quit making all that noise!”
Footsteps upstairs, carts outside our door,
beeping machines, toilets flushing,
deaths on TV. All my fault.
“Go to bed, Judith Ann,
before I take a stick to your behind!”

And on TV, the horror mounts.
Water rises, bodies float.
The anger in the Superdome erupts.