by Jeri Onitskansky

It was the summer you taught me how to hurt
in the way your leaving would make me grow free,
your hands on mine as I hacked the sapling’s
knotted roots, releasing them to feed heartily underground.
I’d wished for the mercy of hidden springs:
outside our back gate the sleepy foal
at his mother’s teat and behind your distraction—
blue oases beaming kindness.
But when we flew to the ancient town,
our troubles were met by an Andalucian sun
leaving hills so parched that it was bells that nourished,
around the goats’ necks like tinkling rain
and also swinging high in the church tower.
From my side of the bed I dreamt
of the earth’s thirst. I pitied everything in that place
until out of our silence a passion vine
climbed the veranda without anything left to sustain it.
Taproots bound crumbling rock. Over our bodies
the air was lightheaded with lavender.