Dec 17


       for Shawn Moon

I often lie awake in the early hours. Today, at 6:10, I hear something killing the chickens across the street, at the same house where someone recently stole the mosaic that was hanging artfully in the fence, one of two. The other mosaic is left, the one with the blues and orange, and now an empty square hole. The sound of the carnage stops. Around the neighborhood, people are making coffee, or deciding which shoes to wear. The church at the corner of Third and Wasco is turning wine into blood. The sky pales, and pinks, and it is day again, a clockful of hours to turn our backs on black space.

On the other half of the earth, where evening is coming on, my friend wonders that there has been a whole day, and yet her mother is still dead. She wonders if she'll still be dead tomorrow, in that way of those beloved of the newly dead, how death at first brings less and less belief in death, in the way that each night seems to involve more stars -- the crushing awe that the dead are still dead, and that there is no end, only an ending going on and on. My friend walks her small dog one last time before tucking in to weep wildly for a while, maybe sleep, decide to go to work in the morning, praying that nothing will ever be the same.

Here, the newspaper lands on the front porch, furled around its brave headlines -- a house fire, a lost hiker found, riots in the middle east -- and, safe and small in the top corner, where most people never look, is the date.

The old woman who lives alone across the street is pragmatic about the death of her chickens. It has happened before. She has told me it is raccoons, and she feels bad about it, but she repairs the coop, even knowing that nothing ever really keeps a raccoon out, and she vows to be more diligent about collecting the eggs, which is what the raccoons are after.

Raccoons need to eat, she has told me. People need art.

She will get more chickens. She is working on another mosaic, which she will hang from the same hooks..