Wilmot hears the muted trumpet behind her—
and weeps. A child’s tongue
bebop’s clarity in coming
years, water in a cup
from a potter’s wheel,
wave from a mother on shore
as ships’ engines roar, steam
for gold-paved streets.
Wilmot’s grandfather sat
on the boat with hers and customs
changed the family’s names. Wilmot’s Gramps
made cornets, hers, pocket trumpets— Imagine Billie’s
trumpeter, the positive implicit in a mute.
The Americas erased Gramps’ goodbye,
his mother’s wave like water
evaporating from a cup. He turned
to farming: Land
blank like a score
unwritten. Boundaries became helpful:
fences kept cows close, coyotes out.
He painted his name on the barn.
Wilmot sees it now, plain as the agave
across the side-yard’s cock-eyed creek.
Twenty-three years the plant has grown.
It’s twelve feet tall. Next week
it’ll bloom bigger than any flower he’s seen
and stand like a torch. Days later
the breeze will sow petals.
Wilmot will remove the dead
succulent. In every bird’s croon he will believe
in seed, as Whitman did, and look for
reincarnation under his boot-soles.