I’m carrying an orange plastic basket of compost
down from the top of the garden – sweet dark,

fibrous rot, promising – when the light changes
as if someone’s flipped a switch that does

what? Reverses the day. Leaves chorusing,
dizzy. And then my mother says

– she’s been gone more than thirty years,
not her voice, the voice of her in me –

You’ve got to forgive me. I’m choke and sputter
in the wild daylight, speechless to that:

maybe I’m really crazy now, but I believe
in the backwards morning I am my mother’s son,

we are at last equally in love
with intoxication, I am unregenerate,

the trees are on fire, fifty-eight years of lost bells.
I drop my basket and stand struck

in the iron-mouth afternoon. She says
I never meant to harm you. Then

the young dog barks, down by the front gate,
he’s probably gotten out, and she says,

calmly, clearly, Go take care of your baby.



Photograph © Stephen Dann, Down Oaks Farm, 2008

Self-Made Man
Some Heat