We wash the bone mud
from our torsos,
and if there is a word for this,
it is sorrow.
We see the frustration
in the lean faces of our children,
the dirt griming their arms,
the hollowness griming their bellies.
You and I will fumble with
our usual fable:
this will pass
and it will pass soon
and it will pass as we sleep
and the land will turn green again
and the sun will turn warm again
and the fields will grow thick again
and we will rest all our doubts,
but yes, this will pass.
A malingering moon watches
and the baby studies the
cracked face through the worn curtains
in her room.
There is music downstairs
to accompany our fable:
I have my father’s old guitar and
you tap a pencil
on the kitchen table to
the plink of wash water in
the beaten feed bucket.
You sing indistinguishable words,
to be a prayer and perhaps that’s what it is,
you say it is,
but it fades into hushes until we
can barely hear the sounds you meant for God.
We take turns wrapping our hands
around each other’s fists,
and then we rest them on the gathered tablecloth,
my guitar on my knee,
Sally on your lap,
and I thank God we cannot see each other’s eyes
because I know there is resignation in them
and I know there are ashes in them
where a fire once burned,
but the fire has burned away
and I cannot see that in you again,
I will not see that in you again,
and yes, this will pass.
We take each other to our rest
in our crumpled bed, with its heavy iron posts
that flake with rust
that you wash away with a dry rag
and you sweep away the dirt that falls
out of my cuffs and pockets
We will pray about love
to each other
and we will pray about love
for each other
until sleep takes us
and it will.
Like the days before it,
this one has finally passed.