Emigrant Song

if I walk
if my mother walks
if her mother walks
     will I ever feel other than 
     an anxious guest
if one could be a guest 
     where walls fail
     to fields
     and sunrise
     incises space with
     black tree
if I follow
     and find a river
     that might touch
     the tide
     of my departure
     will it follow
     my mother’s
     handled cup
     her mother’s fingers
     the scrubbed steps
     leading to 
     of intent
if I speak
if my mother speaks
if her mother speaks 
     forgotten consonants
     with our red
     hands and cracked bones 
if cognate brooms 
     land nowhere 
     to sweep strongbox 
     will roots 
     recognize the 
     or correct 
     rhythm against
     the aspen’s trembling 
when all the stars
     are shadows  
     and misremembered
     planets percolate 
     silver signs 
     overgrown by bark or rusted
     dull or lost 
     on wind felled 
when there is no 
     boundary except 
     between breath 
     and sleep
     our headstones
     tipped against the weeds 
     will home be home
First published Rock & Sling, Spring 2022