The Valley

Having finished the muffin, 
the coffee, the tea, and the fruit
that Helen had arranged for me on the table
before she drew herself a bath,
I hopped on her heavy-set bicycle 
and set out towards the canyon. 
My shirt collar flapped like the wing of a frantic bird
against my shoulder all the way along the creek. 
There is a woman who lives at the mouth of the canyon
whom they call the hummingbird whisperer. 
The birds come in droves to rest on her hands. 
I spotted one flitting up and down in the shade. 
The sun had claimed the bodies of a snake,
a dragonfly, and a moth along the edge of my path. 
I wanted to preserve the way the air smelled,
to seal the sagebrush wind in a little jar
and pack it home in my suitcase. 
I took several desperate breaths to savor
for the ride back down the hill. 
In town, I sent half a dozen peacocks
scattering into a flower bed. 
I found Helen in the kitchen spreading butter
and pickles on honeyed bread,
and three dogs licking her feet
and wriggling in anticipation 
of things to come. 


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