After Molly Spencer’s “Translation”
In my mother’s home after her death
when the house wakes—
I will relearn how to rise from bed.
There is no other reason but for the dogs’
whining at the front door.
To let them out I will wear her clogs,
chicken shit ground
into the soles, seams fraying.
I’ll clomp down
the property line to the bench beside the barred
owl’s dense spruce.
My mother sat through fall and winter
their precise gloom
so many slow dawns
listening to the barred’s call
who cooks for you/who cooks for you all?
I will scuff the frost-stiff
ground between the spruce’s roots,
turn up the greying lacework veins of
dead leaves, bring the soft scent
of loam to the air.
I will nudge the old dogs’ snuffling noses aside,
keep them from the white of tiny
In the messy bullet of the barred owl’s
pellet: the curve of a jaw, slivers of rib,
teeth the size of sand grains…
I will carry it back to the house, dissect it.
Pick through the shards of snail shells,
rodent claws and unknown matter.
Find the miniscule vertebrae.
Whatever shrew, vole, mouse
or mole, I will assemble them bone by bone
until they bear weight again.
Erica Reed is a poet grown in the Pacific Northwest. She co-founded The Poem Store, and is currently working with the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared recently in Noisy Water: Poetry from Whatcom County, Poetry Walk: the Second Five Years, and Clover, a literary rag.