for Steve Shoemaker
Mid November. The cicada’s ardent song
grows deafening. Wind rubs the oak’s old joints.
Something’s going to happen.
The sky goes wrong,
purpling the way it purpled at the checkpoint
that day the border guard pawed through my luggage.
My heart skipped its ragged rope—child
that I became—as he lectured in a language
I didn’t understand, then grinned and piled
my books into his bag, and waved me through
That’s the kind of line we’re about
to cross. You will lay down your precious words,
your name. They won’t be any use. You’ll
climb the highest pass, wordless. A shout,
a greeting, and
the sky’s all sudden, golden birds.