The rooster's crowing followed the Call to Prayer,
or was the crowing first, and then the call?
In her dove-white feathered bed, the dreamer
drowses while the two echo on top of each other
as if practiced every day to ensure perfect harmony:
One, the melodic sounds of a man, like an operatic aria
bringing the world alive to honor the Maker;
the other, sharp and urgent, like a jazz trumpet,
compelling all creatures to awaken.
Together their voices arouse the sleeper,
drawing her from unconsciousness,
lifting her from soft surrounding.
Her hands wipe the sand from her eyes.
Her tongue licks the brine from her lips.
Her feet recoil from the cold marble floor.
Pulled to the window to see the sun rising
over the desert, she leaves behind her dream
of an ocean rolling with diamond-capped waves
smashing against her body as she swims to shore.
The Greens of Acadia
The green surrounds, carpets the trail we walk.
The sun streaks through the leaves’ tree-top abode.
The smells of pine and fir, sounds of soft talk,
like the trees whisper in a secret code,
encroaching humans cannot comprehend.
Leaves pale green of an avocado’s heart
to the dark of the avocado’s skin,
their diverse arras framing nature’s art.
Then, deeper in, where sunlight cannot go
the other side of green emerges—decay,
algae, fungi, lichens, mold, taking hold,
spreading like veins through the body of their prey.
The Acadia forest, heaven of green,
nurtures life, death, the spiritual between.
In love letters to my father from her college dorm,
my mother professes to love only him, proposing
to him during leap year when custom allowed
women to make the first move. She wrote,
“You, my love, cannot say no.” They eloped
soon afterward. In the sepia photo I now hold,
I see that young woman before they married.
She hangs off a ladder on the back of a brown
freight train boxcar. She smiles, leaning away
from the car with one foot on a rung, the other
extended, pointing to the ground. Her left hand
grasps the ladder, her right arm stretches out
to meet the hand of a friend standing with her.
Both wear white lace dresses, pearls, stockings,
leather dress shoes. A hat covers her friend’s head.
My mother’s hair flies free, bobbed in a roaring
twenties cut. Her stance creates the illusion of
flying with the train as it rumbles down the tracks.
But the train is not moving. Dressed in such finery,
was she playing her role of the party girl all boys
wanted to court, hearing the tune she claimed they
sang for her, miss “five foot two, eyes of blue,”
while the train’s horn echoes in the background,
and the young woman fades into her future?
The peacocks prance before deserted homes
across cleared lots determining their domain.
Gold-ringed turquoise ovals like eyes line up
perfectly on the shimmering blue and green
feathers of their fully expanded fan-like tails.
The more subdued grey and brown females
gather in clusters in cul-de-sacs as if
waiting to be courted by flamboyant males.
Cocks bring bright colors and a vibrant life
to the mating ritual in the destroyed neighborhood.
Decades ago, a wealthy couple bought one
peacock and one peahen, envisioning the pair
as living decorations for their gated, garden
estate framed by the ancient pines and oaks
on the sloping banks of Buffalo Bayou.
Over the decades, the muster grew, and it
spread beyond the estate to nest on the grounds
and roost in the trees along the bayou. Then, the
muddy water flooded their tranquil forest homes
and pushed them to higher ground.
The bayou drowned many peafowls,
but some survived by clustering on roofs as the
people were rescued from water-filled homes.
Once the water receded, they appeared in abundance
to parade among the remains of the man-made world.
Across the wooden fence and four-lane street from
the community the peafowls are building is what
remains of the Cenacle Retreat of the Catholic Sisters.
Resting on heavily wooded acres, the houses,
prayer gardens, and labyrinth welcomed all.
But their peaceful surroundings were overtaken
by water when the Corp of Engineers opened the
gates to the reservoir dams during Hurricane Harvey.
The Sisters tried to save the Cenacle houses and gardens
but ended up having to be rescued themselves.
As people reclaim their neighborhood
and rebuild their homes, they chase the
peacocks away, forcing them to find
other homes to survive. Perhaps they will
find respite in the remains of the Cenacle gardens.
Their Indian heritage and god Krishna
could join Christ, East and West united,
emerging from the apocalyptic flood like
from Noah’s into a new world where the nuns’
prayers echo in the ghost trees of the peafowl.