I saw three crows in snow
fall from a white pine branch,
dead frozen before they fell.
Their dark forms became
these fields, hemmed by bone-
pale locust fencepoles.
When the ice was deep
on the surface of the lake,
and the mountains were sheepswool,
dark and white, I tried to plant
white pines in my yard, forgetting
the frostline and the frozen water,
and the fields given up for years.
My rooms then had
low ceilings, countries always
with fences, and the mountains
rose up like a fever-dream I had,
when I flipped a nickel to a
dark pine floor, and columns of coins
grew over the window, too fast to
and fell over toward me, and I
in my frightening, gathering richness,
called out to my father, grandfather,
grandmother, who stood in the doorway
leading into the hall saying Son,
for you to start counting.
When I planted pines
below the house, the husk
of his throat could not
make words; there was no advice
about how deep to dig, of what to
if it never thawed, or why before
he died he drew
a picture of the mountain
above our plot, and put
in the lower corner an azalea
constantly blooming above the snow.
Hunting, I have heard my father
calling down crows from a dark
treeline, knowing they couldn't see
until they got too close.
On a river in Tennessee,
when my gray canoe spun down
a rapid, twisting like a
broken snake, my own voice
became my fathers,' Remember
the rocks, keep your feet up
damn it, and I thought I was
entirely sane, come back just to
try the fishing. My laugh went
deep into the trees.
And I've come back, here, as well,
hearing in myself a bone-song
working out, old fragments rising
to the edge of flesh:
the older words
that a man might make,
standing by a field he knows,
of the grasses that have died
and the grasses come back,
of the houses left behind
like skins, with his voice
going out into the quiet
of small lights burning across three
out beyond the fences and the dark.