Querida R____________,

There are snails here;
they let me make them.
And it is right that only children can see them.
They know how to pry up rocks, expose
raw earth, see what is there.  They know
how to blanket the cornfields and greenful
lawns, study cut diamond skies, not quite
expecting the blue, the breathless, as the air
stirs to sizzle the leaves of trees.
Adults can see them too,
when they donít look for them.
I stick to snails because they are my favorite,
and because I am just beginning to know.
The others have been here longer.
They got out years ago.
When I ask, they cannot tell me where
they come from, those past lives dizzying and blurred
like public restrooms churning with the caged air
of urine and ammonia.  The cuts of air
they create here drift those memories
into the forgotten.
I am starting to forget.
I know soon it will become impossible to take you with me.
So I am sending you this: a wish
for you, one day, to look up from where you write.
Look to the open windows.
Watch the hushed white veils of curtains ebbing with the breeze.
And then,
step into the gasp of nature, head clear.
Look to where the birds catch pieces
of my creations under their wings,
and never expect snails.
1996?, revised 9.25.04