What the child finds in snow is what a ship finds
in the sea, a wake left behind, a froth
that sinks back into itself everyone else
waiting for the return, the full hold,
the grain come again, the hosannas
which are prayers to plenty. The child knows
nothing of this. He has been sent out to play
and has discovered misery.
He is learning that the footsteps he finds in snow
are his and his alone. How sweet his lament,
this silence in the negative world of cold.
It is a kind of perfect mutiny, everyone waiting
and him knowing there will be no return.
If he were a priest he would say:
This is the end of the first lesson.
THE FIRST TIME
The first time
I saw a chicken
across the yard
to do it too
to kill something
it would live
I would like to have dinner with the man
who didn't follow Christ, the one who,
when Jesus said Follow me and I
will make you fishers of men, decided
to go fishing instead, getting in his boat,
pushing out from shore, his nets clean
and repaired, thinking I will have to work
even harder now in order to feed
everyone left behind. I would like
to sit on the beach with him
in front of a careful fire,
his wife and children asleep,
sharing a glass of wine, both of us
telling stories about what we've done
with our lives, the ones we caught,
the ones that got away.