He cut strips from the newspapers
and used them to bind his old photo albums.
He wrote in black on every page
and wrapped them in wax paper,
and tied them with strings.
Every strand had verses on it,
every verse written in letters
cut from the obituaries.
The trails run by wagons across the field
could not spoil the wet grass
or the pool
under the mountains
and the reflections in the pool.
We took a photograph in the morning,
while the geese were flying home.
Every time he flapped his wings
the gander, soaring
took time from his flight
to admire the scenery of the battlefield.
The old farms shuddered in a breath.
The steeple had not withered.
Two roses budding by the stop sign
at the corner
wrapped their veins around the steel
and pricked the valley with their thorns.
The boards of walls, protected from the rain
by paint and finish, had become
by salt leaking from their roofs.
The soot of chimneys
and digested by lichen.
She was a young daughter
now a spinster
and whiling away the hours at her home.
She dipped a crooked wafer in the salt
and chews it, sitting before her reflection.
Making conversation with that wrinkled face
until the sun was rising
and exposed the yellow photographs behind her:
A young man with stripes on his shoulder.
He is no longer her brother.
We guarded these impressions
and every speck
We took them with us, counting them among
the images of deserts
on the fresh blades of the grass.
We used them later to recall the position of the stars
and the locations of the biers between the hills,
each one corresponding to a planet
or a star.