Lighting a damp twig fire (I found beneath fallen cedars fungused and choked with ants) I think of the thousand women igniting immaculate ranges, waiting for their husbands to drag themselves home across the dusty slate of the San Joaquin.
They hope only for silence and sweat. Silence blooms on children's lips as their father approaches, his hand on the ratchety gate. Sweat is the blossom of a young wife who listens to his usual words.
And she knows before he speaks how the crows lifted or fell at his passing or why the well rope is being replaced, again
because she has given her life: after dinner, the glasses are empty she gathers them up as I gather trout from the darkening waters, waiting for someone who will never arrive.
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