for Ananda Lorca Hopkins



I am 24 years old again.
My daughter is in the moonlight room
spring wind  blowing through her from an open window.
She is wearing a little gown the color of the moon
pulling herself up by the bars of her crib.
using the power of the moon.

She is crying   she is crying!

People have told us   let her so she can learn
to be alone.
We are crying.



I walk in the wet field toward end of day
sun setting fire to water in the ruts.
Follow hoof prints of a white calf through oak trees
to a pasture higher up where long grass whispers

Jesus saves…  Jesus saves… 

To the south, crows caw from the hollow
where the spring creek empties into corn.
I hear them beating something on a rock.
Later find the skull of a squirrel, marrow eaten out.
In the quiet between crow caws there is a hollow in my chest
the size of an open palm.

Below me now red furrows in the dusk.
The field is a barren woman streaming menstrual blood.
I kneel to drink water the color of fire and blood
from the hoof print of the white calf.

Turning home where Shelley is kneading dough again
look down at the rent house built of creek rock with a flag stone porch
where copper heads like to sun themselves.
Suddenly my hands are beside my mouth
my lungs letting out bursts of air from the hollow in my chest
imitating a crow!
Dogs in all directions lift their heads and look into trees.



Something is wrong with the pregnant cow.
She walks in circles bellowing!
From this distance, looks like a tree limb sticking out
behind her.

She lies down  gets up.
I run over see the hoof of her calf coming out.
She lies down in pain again.

Run to the road, yell at an old farmer driving his tractor to town
a man whose teeth are like children
dead to him now.

Shows me how to put both hands inside the cow
take hold of the calf’s head and pull it into place.
Then we all pull together!
Shelley comes from the house. We all pull on the calf’s legs
our hands cut by razors of wind!
The farmer says sometimes he hooks them to his tractor and pulls.
But the calf shoots out like my daughter did
steaming blue and white, membrane and blood!
The cow gets up, licks the eyes of her calf
licks her nose and mouth.

Everybody is happy.



Then come long horns of evening
crow caws flattened across pond water.
I get up in the dark, stars falling like figs in the Bible.
Walk around the rent house, knowing ten years before it happens
I will loose everything
be picked up by county cops walking towards Texas
shirtless with an oak bow strung across my chest
quiver full of hand whittled arrows

I am the white calf! I am the Mother of the calf!
I am crow caw!

Everybody laughing.





for Eli and Ananda

“Charles, the past must have its say but not its way.” Nana

After supper we sit on the front steps
and write our names on rough concrete with bits of colored chalk.
We watch lightning shoot sideways across the sky.
Eli is in my lap, my arm over his shoulder.
Ananda leaning on my right side, her hand touching my knee
before the rain began.

Above and around us, thunder! Lightning!
Surrounded by so much power, we laugh and sing a song about Jesus
finally come with tongues of fire and trumpets blown!

Later when my children are asleep
I listen to trains blow through Fairfield carrying soybeans and seed corn
to silos in Ottumwa.
Hail scratches at my window panes with the fingernails of children
lost in a town without power and light.

Trees jump out of the dark in left over lightning
the streets filling with rain.






Walking back from the White Salmon River
willows leaking moonlight.
“A man has to do what he’s told.”
I hear someone telling a child through an open window.

Behind the Pentecostal Church
a teenage couple parked with the motor running
move against each other
the monotonous cylinders of an old Buick.

Coming home through mine fields of winter squash
laughing to myself
I bring you a long yellow leaf.

I wanted to bring you the river.