Excerpts from Our Vanishing

Elegy for My Mother

But I still have my river-mother
and all of her glittering fish,

my sycamore-mother who never is cold,

my star-white mother whose eyes
need no closing,

whose wind-stripped hands need not crochet,

whose dove-plain dress does not rip
on the drag of the gutter’s wind,

whose kicked-off galoshes never lined up
with all the black pumps of the mothers
of Morningside Avenue,

my mother whose fiddle has two
curved hurts for its f-holes,

magnolia-mother shedding her petals of snow,
tearless November mother refusing soup,

leaving her wig on the steps
for the grackles to nest in,

my broad-boned mother, my corduroy
notre dame of the worn knees,

mother of sidestroke stillness
and loose knots,

my mother who blurs from the effort
of being remembered,

o homely, deliberate icon of lamps left on,

and I have set out a dish for her fingerbeams

First appeared in Field

Upon Learning a Friend Is Now Terminal and Being Asked for Prayers

So I send up another of my little gray balloons
asking the breeze or whatever to take it,
give it the oomph it needs, help it along here and there,
o that its string not catch on the scaffolding

outside the new museum, anything having to do
with a shopping mall, bridle of the chipped green horse
at the Altamont Fair, not even the burned out
S on the sign of the Rosebud Diner.

All this I ask pulling back the goldfish shower curtain,
stepping into the tub, turning the hot faucet down,
lathering up my hair, scrubbing the sleep grime
off my face with a wash cloth I should have thrown

into the laundry, thinking it is a sin
talking this way to God, an absolute sin.

First appeared in Crazyhorse

To the Petermann Glacier

as the sound of you clatters against
the sound of you

as you slink on your damaged axis
down each torn strand of latitude

comes the blank midnight of summer

as you approach the silence beneath
the skirts of the jellyfish

comes the coyote’s glide over the boulevards

as the last oar lifts from the fleet of the white boats
as the beachgrass goes on witnessing

as the old man with no sorrow left
folds up the walls of his fishing hut

as he bequeaths his anchors and nets
to the soured new marsh

comes the wildfire fingering
the edge of the schoolyard

as the first of a thousand stones
grazes the raped woman’s beautiful shoulder

as the ramshackle factories moss-naked asylums
doorknobs still draped with the gowns of ghosts
as all of the meadows cropless now
go on acre by wind-torn acre not knowing

that they await you

as only the face-painted sunshine awaits you
to scatter it over the shallows

come street festival sequins
come unenforceable curfew

come the relics the children
should never have touched

come the cries from the throats of the shadows
of mothers

comes the newly erected Cathedral of Zero
with its pulpit tangled in sumac

come deafness to fiddle and pennywhistle
come all of the fallen honey bees

as the lost gulls float inland scavenging sticks

as you lay down the calm heat of listening before
the great barrier requiem

First appeared in The Journal

13 year old dog

Now old friend you ask nothing

accept these cradling arms that will not let you
stumble again on the tall tall steps

this rice gruel fed from a steadied hand

accept rest from this bed furrowed deep
with the years of your circling

and freedom from this collar slipped past
your chafed throat and lopsided ears
clinking once as it flops on its hook and is still

this slow walk over snapped thistles
into your beyondlessness where I am not welcome

this water from the crusted home tap
this one last time before you begin to hear

the clearest of springs stroking over and over
the brows of the rocks

 © Frannie Lindsay.