Hill station


Women from the farms separate
the newly sprung from earth
and gather seeds from fruits
of their early harvest. Their fore-
bears stacked terraces by hand upon
the mountainsides, split and coaxed
stalks of bamboo to move water
from upland springs to where 
the soil could not otherwise
be fed, except for rain. Their hands
are moss and stone, vine and resin
on rows of carved wooden gods 
resting under each granary: they
guard each grain and frighten voles
that roam the fields after dark, that hide
from owls and kestrels sweeping the sky
of foggy webs. The women save the blood
from every slaughter and sacrifice,
then twist it into smoky necklaces.
The bees make homes near citrus
groves and pilfer another kind
of gold into each cell. No snow
falls here though it is north and
high. But sometimes frost burns all
the tender green; then we are helpless.


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