My son is learning at last everything I never taught him.
He’s learning to do whatever he’s told by anyone
whose job it is to order up the impossible:
Tomorrow, David, it must not rain.
This Indian, David, he is six inches too tall.
He woke up one night standing outside a Best Western motel,
an old woman slapping him with a pillowcase,
scolding him in Spanish with motherly consternation.
He said he needs to learn Spanish.
And carpentry. So many things have to be built.
Difficult things that do not exist. A device for spitting
tobacco into someone’s face, for example.
A house that falls down.
He sent me a postcard, he said. Sent his father a postcard. His grandfather a postcard.
To his own mailbox hanging empty at the door of his empty apartment he sent a postcard
of a rampaging mare he found wedged in the mirror in the toilet of a Texaco station
near Cottonwood Falls. It is his calling to find things; his station
in the underground maze where all the circuitry hums.
He told me a Kiowa girl wrote a poem on his arm with a coyote tooth. A ghost
wrote a song in the dust on the hood of his car. His car wouldn’t start
and Queen Bey stepped down from a red pickup truck, from her parapet
of sixty years and skin like hammered copper and blues
and jazz in all the cities of Europe to touch his face
with a varnished fingernail, give him a Diet Coke and a ride.
On an undulating plain at purple dawn he found a cowry shell grimed with ocean salt.
A herd of bison rose like a swarm of locusts to consume a hilltop; beat a cloud
from their hooves that changed the color of the sky.
Nothing is lost, but so many things have to be found.
~ Pat Daneman
(Published in Inkwell, Spring 2008)
Pat Daneman has lived in Lenexa, Kansas since 1986. Recent work appears in The Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Bellevue Poetry Review, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She is poetry co-editor of Kansas City Voices magazine.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, guest editor for Dec., is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author or editor of 19 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. More on her here.