I sit at the edge of the woods
in the amber dusk.   
The last light has fallen off the trees.   
As the veil whispered its fall,   
like the swallow lithe and quick,   
I remember    
as sure and as permanent as air  
the voices of ancestors  
running on a loop.  
Gone but not forgotten,  
they have altered who I am.   
I believe   
I’m held in their hands,  
architecture of wing and bone,   
pliant and forgiving.      

The waking world is wavering.  
I feel myself falling   
as when a tectonic plate shifts.   
I could not remember all their words  
but I can tell you this:  
they spoke secret words,  
joyous seeds of hope:  
You are almost of the sky,  
a thumbprint of divinity.  
Your concaving, hungry heart,  
both clumsy and graceful,   
locked into a perpetual dance 
despite your shadows, your scars,  
all the knots you can’t undo yourself.    
Sometimes their words became waves   
a river in the blood,   
the balm of gratitude.     

And the dark pools,  
stretching feelers    
putting the moon to bed—
the bone white revelation.   
I fall sleep in a green cradle  
beneath the canopy of trees,    
dream of things unseen,   
leaving one world and entering another    
layering itself over itself  
to grasp the deeper meaning,   
choking out     
the weight of the world.   
I’m a shapeshifting crow   
unwavering like the wind.    
I am the night.
I grow into moss.    
When I open my eyes,
everything shimmers.    

*Cento using lines, including title, found, and slightly altered, in the,Lexpomo 2020 anthology Maps We Forgot to Bring, in the following order: Melissa Olson, Suzanne Gilmore, Melissa Olson, cl kirby, Gregory D. Welch, Steven Daugherty, Anne Hayden, Shaun Turner, Jay McCoy, Melissa Olson, Misty Skaggs, Savana Rae, Little Bird, Pat Owen, Aaron Reding, Brigit Truex, Callie Budrick, Meghan Goins, H. A. Spinelli, Tania Horne, Kristi Maxwell, Laura Foley, Sylvia Ahrens, M. Wells, Gregory D. Welch, E. VanWinkle-Johnson, Jerielle Hanlon, Tony Wheary, Stephanie Mojica, cl kirby, H. A. Spinelli, BlackGirlFli, Suzanne Gilmore, Jamie Mann, Joseph Allen Nichols, Dangerfield Yella, Gregory D. Welch, Brigit Truex, Suzanne Gilmore, B. G., Pat Owen, Christina Joy, Kathleen Gregg, Venecia Proctor, Ryan Oppegard, Jerielle Hanlon, Bethany Robinson, Jerielle Hanlon, Misty Skaggs, B. G., Pat Owen.