At dawn the lambs run, wailing,
from the dark cave to the daylight.
Creatures pale as grief.
And I, the jailer with the hairless hide
and single rolling eye, will count them,
touching them with memory:
Their crooked hair, their gentleness,
the shift of eye and odor,
phrases of sky that leak from their mouths.
I know they see it, the sadness of dawn—
still hold it in their eyes, still call to it.
A call that sounds like fear—but smaller.
I will shear their purple dawn from them,
their misery as soft as violets.
The air of my cave has changed.
It moves with the sound of cloth and sticks,
the scent of creatures neither sad nor gentle.
They watch me as their heat and slyness
thuds. Their hate whispers in the dark
like a small, blue flame.
Each mind sighs “home” and “distance”
like a small, gray, weeping gland
or a slow wringing of hands.
They think a journey home will free them.
They widen in that wish like roses
as if desire could make them beautiful.
As if my hands were upward
and they come down like rain or light.
As if something is escaping,
grazing on the steep and empty sky.
is a retired attorney who worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets led by Lawrence Hart and John Hart in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is In the Language of Lost Light (Poetic Matrix Press).