site map

Late and After Chauna Craig

            You still remember the toy xylophone when you were four and your world so bright.  Primary colors and tones that clinked clear and hummed after.  Thatís the sound you remember.  Buzz of invisible insects, echoing red blue noise you would always love because the strike of your small hammer moved molecules.  Because you heard it late and after everyone else stopped listening.

Doesnít time flatten everything?

The arches of your feet.  The bread dough you dreamed would rise and fill the whole house.  Enthusiasm.  New mounds of earth, old mountains, and the soft body of the doe you struck on the highway—everyday sinking into the horizon.  The music of you striking everything with your small hammer.  Weak kerplinks, quiet thuds that echo.  After.

            One day you will meet a man who was deaf as a child.  He banged with the other children but never heard the xylophone.  When you play your own stone xylophone, your every muffled thump will strike him as music.  When you weep against the curve of his shoulder and beat his chest in a crescendo of gentle fists, he will whisper maestro.

            Breathe.  Bow.  Everything else, the air between beats, your electric encore.



Somewhere a woman is drowning more children.  In utero.  We breathe first.  Some hearts fail to bloom.  Some lungs are only the stems of lungs.  Bronchiole that wonít flower, a garden gated against sin.


This soaked morning I breathed dogwood and columbine.  Cottonwood spits into the wind, snags the dry ends of my hair.  And I think of all the ones who refuse my kind of survival.  Exergonic bursts on an already blustery day.


Children are drowning their mothers.  Holding their heads under for longer stretches, a kind of training.  You welcomed me then.  I breathed all you offered.  Even then it burned.  Now taste the excess.  Taste the air before it was air.


I can refuse. Taste.  I hold my breath sometimes.  For the children I wear flowers in my hair.