You downshift into the yam heat.
In the valley of grapevines
we don’t talk of childlessness.
Your elbow is a wing in the open window
as a confetti of leaves and shadows
rushes by. I know you’ve never seen
these orchards in spring bloom—
how the pink lanterns of light float down.
Red potatoes lie on the ground now,
the color of dried blood.
I make the sign of the cross.
The Kings River smells of drowned cattle.
Then Exitor, Pixley, terra bella, sweet dirt
all around as faithful to the sky
as water is to gravity. In Delano, sweethearts
will wait past midnight, when heat
like a camel carries them to each other.
Your left shoulder is burning.
with the setting sun, I sleep and dream
there is a family by the roadside
dressed in Easter clothes. Abeula. Mama.
The father’s good Panama hat points brim down
under the car’s yawning hood
as the smallest girl’s red dress
opens like a tulip. She holds a grace
of white blossoms, loco weed,
bridal bouquet. I reach for her.
I reach for you. In a swarm,
battling ants cross and re-cross
her two best shoes. Behind her,
sunflowers snake through the barbed wire.
I dream I give you a palm full of almond blossoms.
I dream of tumbleweeds, divining rods
and soil. When I wake it isn’t Easter after all.
Still we have to go to church.
Take what we can harvest.
From Dissolve, (New Rivers Press, 2011) Also published in Pool
There is a sudden downpour
and people cluster waiting
in the cove of the cathedral.
Under each arc of eve-
rain black doves.
"It is very beautiful".
" Yes, yes",
a strange man agrees twice.
Orange lilies lie wilting
in the heat. Candles
of torn sunlight slip over us.
I have a fever and need ice.
The beggars of alms
hold out palms full of rain.
And the thunder, and
then counting the fierce
voices in the sky.
What can I bring
to bring you these stained bells,
the scent of creosote and chili,
each bent back of each woman
across the square weaving
baskets, selling sliced cactus
and pale pink carnations?
Three days I've had no bath,
should step out in the water
and be cleaned.
And I can't believe
you aren't with me-
a lost color,
a breathless lung.
Now people are leaving
the shelters of doorways
for rough cobblestone streets,
everyone watching the sky,
and when the shower has passed
an old man exits the chapel
arms laden with huge lilies
white and fragrant,
From Dissolve, (New Rivers Press, 2011) Also published in Cider Press Review
© 2012 Holaday Mason