Annie, dusting the Earth
in birdseed, cups her ear
for the coos of loons that echo up
from Bantam Lake—across
the thistled yellow hill where
deer would bow their heads,
go rigid, then bolt into
the curtain of trees.
Upstream a bough eases
the heat that drifts,
And Anne waits on the porch, watching the rotten apples roll down the hill towards the footbridge where small brown bodies would sunbathe and leap into
the brown water below, screaming Annie.
And Anne yells one for the money, and two for the show. Aunt Anne takes pictures and makes doubles. And Anne mails you one and puts the other on her fridge. Aunt Anne smells like rosewater and brandy, parchment and oriental rugs, the curl of red hair, dementia.
When she left it wasn’t like a deer bounding away.
She seeped into the floorboard creaks and sounded up from the muddy water, her hoarse voice ruffling its surface and soaring up the hill and rumbling its way into my ear. Three to get ready.
The dogs heard too and barked Annie. Annie.
Wild geese unsettled, flocked high
in the clean blue air, caught in
the thick wind, flying not home
but away, for to go.