all the arts lose virtue
                        Against the essential reality
                        Of creatures going about their business among the equally
                        Earnest elements of nature.

                                                  – Robinson Jeffers (“Boats in a Fog”)

Early on, we trace small hands to paper
that look like everyone else’s, never knowing
just how these flat lines might reach

to hold or touch, grasp or caress our desire—
never imagining the scars they will collect
as we go about our business—that they may

grow into routines of feeding others, saving
and taking lives away from pain as if
we were gods and the world was ours.

At dusk around the fire you rekindled
with a gum wrapper, we watch the meat cook
with glass in hand, reliving routines

as quail come to roost with a heavy fluttering
above our heads, claiming their place in a tree
with imperative tittering, as someone

coasted off-course, hollers: ‘Where are you?
Where are you?’ And another answers,
‘Over here. Over here.’ As we talk.

By our hand, they understand our passion,
the earnest elements of our nature. But we
are family, this covey come to share our fire.

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