The swallow is flying in a red dress.
The dress interrupts work to be done in the woods.
Frills in rows and layers are little speech acts.
The dress is doing all the talking.
What is little can become what is larger.
Big bloom and parlando.
Sooner or later frills can become direct appeals.
“Be my” is direct.
“Be my/be my baby” is no less direct.
It is an interruption.
Pleading please so won’t you please interruption.
There was woods and there was only woods in the beginning only canopy
and understory stories with the Indians in and out of the stories which became
different stories with the settlers who cut down the woods to make houses
and fields and to keep houses warm in long unrelentingly cold winter.
Leaving only tallest sycamores with massive camouflage colored trunks and
cream colored narrow tops not good for burning or for building who cut
down the woods to make houses and fields who cut down and through
the understory story to make a mill-race a wooden mill with a wooden wheel.
The mill abandoned the mill-race silted over and clogged where it joins
a creek or small river with many turnings the fields going to weeds
dewberry trumpet vine poisonous pokeweed goldenrod the woods returning
to woods cherry witchhazel hawthorn hackberry redbud hard and soft maples.
The creek or small river remaining with its many turnings remaining not
moving but flowing weeds cut down the fields plowed and disced and
disced again and dragged the woods re-cut and mowed to make a path with
its own turnings under the canopy remaining and through the understory.
Near the path which has no Indian name nor any other name but is
beckoning in its own turnings near the path are planted new trees and bushes
new maples with open palm-shaped or deeply divided or moon-shaped
leaves new viburnums fragrant in spring clustered bright berries in autumn.
What has been planted dogwoods and magnolias in addition spireas and
more spireas in addition must be well-tended in hot humid summer the path
well-tended in each season that those who visit the woods may walk
unhindered and if not finding peace or the lady hope may walk unhindered.
Pleading is powerful.
Knocks you off your horse and makes you cry.
Something else can happen after direct directions.
Sooner or later in layers after layers.
Can happen despite the clamor of angels.
This is despite clamor in mind.
Across a blue formation under a florid sky formation.
This is after all the talking.
It’s the call of the swallow.
The call hushes and is itself hushed.
“In Layers” first appeared in Mixed Blood (2013); used courtesy of C. S. Giscombe.
Edited by Matthew Cooperman