Mother’s Day

Roger Reeves
The coyote runs to you as if you were the invisible rabbit
Suddenly sprung from the bush and meant to be eaten;

Then, as if the crow that leapt from the stone ledge
Shook the sky and restored the coyote his right vision,

The brush wolf veered back into the pines, its body
Taking the brown shape of the afternoon's swaying

Ache in the branches. More than transfigurations,
There are so many moments of grace I will never understand--

Mint growing at the entrance of a graveyard, ‘the wind
Resting its cheek on the ground,' the sun slipping

Into a boy's pocket and warming an unpeeled orange,
Stars echoing in the leaves of the live oak,

Basil on sliced tomatoes, the fish below the ice, roses
Rising through the red, green, then golden harvest

In the worst autumn, winter, spring, your foot,
Your foot across mine in bed on a day the dead walked

Into our house without taking off their shoes;
Without mint on their tongues, the dead came,

My father, your brother, through a hole in the floor.
They showed us where ‘the vermin eat their bodies

As if they were old clothes, filthy, discarded.'
They showed us their old clothes

Until the night took on the hue of bone. They
Entered and entered us as if interring snow.

And, we went to bed underneath the hue of bone,
A house of snow, but then your foot, your foot

Across mine in bed, the perfect weight of it,
As if it were a gate closing,

A bowl restored backwards from its shattering
So its shattering still somewhere inside it and water,

Water, too --- your foot, your foot across mine,
Stars echoing in the leaves of the live oak,

In the dead, the coyote wearing the invisible shape
Of the afternoon and running toward us again.

Roger Reeves earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin, and is the author of King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), winner of the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, and a John C. Zacharis First Book Award. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and two Pushcart Prizes, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and Princeton University. An associate professor of poetry in the English Department at the University of Texas, Austin, Reeves was the February 2020 guest editor for Poem-a-Day. His second collection of poetry is forthcoming from W. W. Norton.