The cottonwoods are thinking about creek beds
in March when the snowmelt trickles, then rushes,
the thickness of caliche and the treachery of holding
anything enough, especially water. The vultures
are thinking about stillness, as they often do,
and how the earth will form a bed around whatever
lies on it long enough. The stoneflies are thinking about home
and the effort it takes to build even a tiny wall of spit
and pebble and how soon their lace wings shrivel
and their houses sit empty, making space only
for the wind. The girl is thinking about virga and
that the name sounds like viga, the ones that hold up
the heavy adobe roof of her low-ceilinged house and how
she would prefer to be the ghost rain, the walking rain,
synonym for longing: what falls and never touches down.
The only story a child learns: to fly is to burn into the sun,
to fly is beautiful and what every child must try to do.
Sheila Black is the author most recently of a chapbook All the Sleep in the World (Alabrava Press, 2021). Her fifth collection, Radium Dream, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, Blackbird, The Birmingham Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She works for AWP and lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is a co-founder of Zoeglossia, a non-profit to build community for poets with disabilities.