Just eight weeks old, you lie on Papi’s lap —
tall Papi, from Chile — as he reads aloud Neruda
in Spanish. You stare at the movement of his murmuring lips
until the musical syllables pull you gently under.
Your eyes roll back, your lids flutter, you sleep.
There will come a time, Antonio, when you’ll find yourself
inexplicably drawn to the ocean, to islands, to love.
Constellations and carnations will tug at you like the tide,
the word topaz will bring you to tears. The shiver of the abyss
will be blown your way by night wind in the pines.
Blue stars will shimmer in the phosphorescent hair
of the woman you love. You will write her a thousand poems.
—from a first line by William Stafford
How through this slow dream of gathering
death we meander, sleepwalking
with curious purpose. Days of frenzy
left behind, burnt down to embers.
The dark dilates before us,
ready to carry us further
into the different dream.
Impossible to stop,
we are vapors exhaled by the river
this February morning,
cirrus plumes wisping away.
For years a teacher, now a traveling poet, Katy McKinney divides her time between rural Trout Lake, Washington, even more rural McCarthy, Alaska, and a sailboat in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Her work has been published in The Sun, Manzanita Quarterly, In Posse Review, Lucid Rhythms, Perigee, RAIN Magazine, Pacific Magazine, and Windfall, as well as in several anthologies. She holds an MFA from Pacific University.