I haven’t heard 
from him since Maman’s entire life shipped 
frozen—ropes frayed, packages whistling
in the cracked box crammed 
with clothes, moth balls, and dried fruits
from last season. She had barked, were you rocked 
near a wall? swiping the ladle from me, stirring 
the crème fraiche and butter, adding 
mollusks, and I swear, 
a little cider, a little salt, 
then a measure of wine to break 
open before dinner, I say damn!  
Damn. The smells before Maman’s cancer came:
Laertes, her chihuahua, and the nameless scent 
of a hospital, only she died 
at home, feathers beating, angels singing
Descartes backwards, I am therefore I think!

Keeping my distance from her, I’ve stood 
on fields and vast American mountains fretted 
with trees. Cabins my cafés and wind swept 
memories—then the snow-caps of winter frozen 
blue like North Seas—never lucky.

I think therefore I am in this terrible mood.

They kept 
ortolans and ravens—gray and night— 
and the pale flicker of candlelight slowed 
her heartbeat under her ribs.
I could not sense when her spirit flew,
but Papa kept 
affairs regular in their silence.  
Everyone in that room was a bird.

Eyes and talons so still you could see yourselves.