Found dead in the neighbor’s yard
a humid morning in July. The flies
already at its eyes, its neck bent
back over the place where it was torn
in two, ropy pink poured over pre-dawn
dew. So small and startling
beside the lilac bush and new mulch bed.
So fresh and so open.
It had to be coyotes. Gone off now
to loll in cool dens, bellies full,
far out in the woods beyond our lawns
behind the sheds where we keep
our rakes and mowers, familiar tools.
In bed after dark in air-conditioned hush,
we won’t hear their return, won’t stir.
Won’t wake up when they pitch their snouts
and howl for the other half.
Tursi is a small Italian village where
my great-grandfather delivers mail
throughout the countryside
on the back of a mule. In May
the straps on his saddlebags fail
and the air gets abrupt and paper-white.
So windy on the hillside, all of it goes up
as he reaches, frantic with duty.
He swipes at air. The mule demurs.
The olive is in bloom down the path,
fragrance fusing with envelopes
riding time’s current to rest
on this desk, where my fingers strain
transcribing forgotten correspondence.