In the time of elegies

will you remember the time before consciousness

before the world’s farmstead was sold off in parts
one by one or wholesale first the animals then
the barn then the land divided & the furniture
finally the people saving what they could to go

elsewhere each on their own can you remember much

earlier that one evening the father gathering
the family the hurried ride to someone’s house where
they might sleep undisturbed one weekend more confer
with lawyers before he was put on a plane deported

while threats of violence swept over neighborhoods or

fires that razed everything from the dry mountainsides
up palm-lined avenues store windows melting clapboards
shingles that someone’s ancestors might have hammered
to make roofs to withstand a storm the test of time

therefore what’s meant by consciousness is really elegy

what can i offer besides the salt lick of commiseration
this morning in a box of old photographs i heard before
i saw one of those old musical greeting cards squirrels
on a branch a small chittering sound meant to mimic teeth

chipping away one hard flake at a time to get to the seed

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