For Nicolas Erickson
Barefooted by a Missouri river,
you finger pick your steel-string.
A weary caravan procession
carrying your only possessions,
memories, stirs the dust off
your dirt-road throat.
Your children doddle in a distant
yard. The sister lifts her face
to the falling, grape-like, clematis
blooms under the window of the dining
room. Her brother kicks the seedlings
spinning off the daisies.
Though the physician's incision
sprouted her hair, he grabbed
your son instead, giving him
the first born's burden.
Underfoot the twins would
chirp sounds only they understood.
You'd scold them to use words
and receive their tea-saucer stares.
On the couch with a neighbor,
your two-year-old daughter, kung-fu
gripped his temple, jealous of Daddy's
attention. You laughed at her ferocious precision.
You'd often return home prune-skinned
and silent, having rinsed your day
down restaurant drains, and your groggy-eyed
boy would greet you and fake a high
laugh to brighten your face.
Above the rippling water, your young
son and daughter mingle among the tired
travelers, who follow your song in search of home.