Dear rumor of recurrence,

we're told you're already among us
and no longer on your way. The radio
woke us up this morning with news
of another rising wave of contagion, 
a winter of pestilence and affliction—
your dark attendants, your retinue 
and signature. But tonight, 
around a fire in a neighbor's backyard, 
we are invited by a shaman to make 
of our bodies a field shook with lightning; 
to clear a space for the ancestors to enter 
with their gifts of remembrance and healing. 
What we pass from hand to hand around 
the circle: not just flower or stone, not twig 
with its tip of glowing ember. 
Loosen the heart, and the tongue 
might follow. Loosen the fist and the hand, 
and the towering pines lean a little more
away from our small houses on the ground. 
A few blocks away, the river continues:
a scroll bearing messages from the future 
and from the past.


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