To own that death itself must be,
Like all the rest, a mockery
–Percy Bysshe Shelley

From a Chinandega ditch, leaves whisper in Spanish.
Kneeling, air rife with diagnosis, she touches
green to darker green like roughing velvet’s nap.
Nearby, a horse’s carcass putrefies, a rabble
of butterflies settles, white petals on the mango.

She makes of murmuring weeds an auspice,
finding Shelley’s lines to justify her credence.
In Thailand, she kneels again in green. A lake,
an indigo boat, an elephant calf with tattered ears.
The keeper touches weeds, watching

them shut, like cloud-shadow, and shift. Tomorrow
marks four years, and she is listening to leaves.


I’d refused chemo that spring, booked a flight to Nicaragua, desperate to live life as usual. Sabrina and I delivered bikes that morning to school kids on the Honduran border. I saw signs in everything—a litter of kittens behind a latrine, women weaving pine needle baskets, rain. Somewhere along the Pan American highway we squatted to pee in a ditch. Writing this now it is flies buzzing, trucks rumbling past, Sabrina humming, the mimosa stirring, and the hush of the horse I remember. The polyphony of it. How even the horse, in its reeking mockery, knew its part.