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For Cage Who Escaped
A child missing: that same sad story,
a fist of nails to the womb.
Too many options- the black pond, dragged
grappling hooks snag fingers of dead wood,
carcassed debris from last years hunt.
Outside Coalville, oak-brush chokes frigid miles
3 days now, of bloodhounds
helicopters, clots of Samaritans
in blaze-orange fluorescing across the implacable face
of mountain scrub wilderness-
3 days, but still no miracle resurrection
nothing but a statement of geese
inked across parchment sky. No trace
no footprint, or twist of hair.
No fingerbone. Nothing to tell the tale
of a barefoot two-year-old,
weighing less than the ache
of a mother's heart;
scrubbed from all his future photos
by some random hand.
Grist for autumns needled teeth.
He leaves behind only small shadows,
half-covered by skiffs of snow.
Gage slips barefoot over frosted grass
between the clack of Sandhilll cranes,
the whisper of starlings, intent.
Up the slope, toes dug into hoarfrost,
he creeps, sure as daylight
until daylight is gone, & still
further on, until neither dogs, men
can bring him back.
Even a boy, slight as a sparrow,
inverted as a snail above Coalville's
gritty industrial air, can carve himself
a different ending.
Tapping the soft-lustered metal
with insurrections spoon,
he erases the bur of life
until he gleams smooth as soapstone.
Easeful as a sigh he slipped the trap.
He is not alone.
Beneath the cloud occluded sky
nestle more milk-carton missing
than the unnamed can hold, coiled
like fiddleheads, voiceless
as lichen. Pure stones
lie close in the bearable soil
where dreams are translucent murmurs of rain.
He curls into the smooth, peeled-bark groove
of a felled cottonwood
aligning shoulders, hip, pale cold feet
white cheek against the deep green breast.
Down between the toes of birch & juniper
tasting the breath of sage,
& silence, he's blanketed in wings.
POETRYREPAIRS 12.05: 053