They Have Named My City a Hundred Times
Once for a woman with golden hair,
and once for the spirit hills rising
to the west. They have called it after
a species of bird that flocked in the
pine-rich woods, but hasn’t been seen
for a lifetime or two. A king named it
for his dog, another for his horse,
a third for a gleaming ship that brought
a Bronze Age army to its shores.
It’s been named for generals and queens,
businessmen with large mustaches,
for castles, cathedrals, and banks.
One time it took its name from some
great, roaring inland sea that turned
to sand thousands of years ago, leaving
fishbone fossils in the sedimentary rock.
Every street has had a hundred names –
Pear Street became Lion Street, and then
Flood Way, or Disaster Boulevard, and when
the smoke cleared, The Avenue of Curses and Remorse.
In a town so quiet it might have been
filled with nothing but the hungry
dead, three yellow birds hunted worms
on a front lawn –
three lithe lemons, or three candy
sticks, moist from the licking
When the sky opened, mourning doves
fluttered toward the trees, eyes flaming,
wings obscured by smoke.
Before they could spring back into air
two small girls gathered
them in baskets woven of weed
and straw and the long, sticky sinews of frogs.
About the Author:
For purchase A Landscape in Hell
For Purchase Family Reunion
For Purchase How Fascism Comes to America