An indigo cloak clasped at her paper throat,
my mother is stepping

deep and deeper into a forest wing-lit with birds,
a basket of seeds

clutched in her hand. Once in a while, she

and scoops deep into the swirl—and gathers
a handful to sow

all about her, strewing the path with her time-
tested mix of dun

pearls of millet, of Ethiopian nyjer tiny as
rice, the richest black-

oil sunflower seeds—and so making a feast
under her feet, to delight

the rose-breasted house finches, arrow-tailed
swifts, her juncos,

her mourning doves calling where are you
where are you as they

alight, as they light her path into thickening
woods. Sometimes,

she stops, to consider the narrowing way—
to right and left, storm-

clocked nurse logs rife with soaked sword-
fern and moss, straddled

by opportune alder. Ahead, a dim bramble
of brush. Sometimes,

my mother looks back, turns around, around,
slippered feet tentative

over awkward ground laced with uneven
root-wad and rock

under drifts of soft duff. A vine-maple’s
reddened and

tumbling leaves brush her wrist, and she stops
to point out the flutter,

color and call of so many birds to my father,
although he is not

on the path she follows into the tangled
heart of the forest,

close and damp after rain. These woods—vines
and branches, holes and

encroaching thickets—hers alone, where he can
not follow…. Now streaking

the dusk, one cardinal flares, far from their New
England home—scarlet-

headed and cloaked, plump ensign who darts
in and out of

the cumulate dark, to light on her shoulder—
and she feels how she

flies under his heart, how she enters his heart,
and he hers.

She picks up the basket, steps on into twilight—
the cardinal weeping,

his red breast sweeping and lighting the one-
way one way.
Gulf Coast, Measure, Northwest Review, and other publications. She’s been awarded
fellowships in poetry from Literary Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission to
work on two new manuscripts (
Blue Fields, Burning, and Ambiguous Gift). Her
second collection,
Red Jess, appeared in February 2006 from Cherry Grove
Collections; her second chapbook,
Pulse & Constellation (2007), was a finalist for
the Finishing Line Press Competition.