In this desert, all this lightand memory. Briefest moment, your hand on my hipbone, your lungs…
First thought: The wintered birds, returned.
Second thought: On the phone I kept having to call her back to me. She was listening, elsewhere, beyond me.
Third thought: The church bells and trains in the distance, how every part of me now peels toward them.
Fourth thought: I knew. Even then, I knew, even as I fingered the possibility of not knowing like a river stone in my left hand.
Fifth thought: The days are longer by increments I count by their seconds, knowing winter will end here without me once seeing your face in its light.
Sixth thought: I have never once worn the burnt butter doeskin braid wraps that were made for me by the long hands of a Lakota elder, their fringe now hanging over the edge of the bookshelf beneath the Eastern window in first light.
Seventh thought: No one could ever count the number of times in this living that my mother has braided my hair.