You grow accustomed to fennel toothpaste,
stale oats at breakfast, dried stubs of orange.
Damp air pressing in from the mountains
like Grandma’s cold cream on your skin.
Velvet orchids. Snow across the lake in the middle
of summer. How everyone wades through the scent
of lavender walking from the Balgrist tram,
the damp-haired swimmers, the German heels,
the roving woodpecker that calls out like a bell
from the holy steeple. Here on this continent
you consider the proverbial, the house inhabitants
rearranged. You wake in the cool sheets to the landlord
pulling a hose across the yard
watering the larkspur and the delphiniums
carrying up cheese wrapped in last week’s newspaper.
Your obligations are seven-thousand miles away
but they tremble like a progression of fighter ants
underground. Out of range the voices urge on
in fragments, crack into multiple frequencies.
Overdue taxes! Lumps— lung—
The lost dispatches strain to be heard
and the family of your endless duty rings
beyond the peak response of the human ear
like the song of that Dusky Sparrow someone recorded
before it went extinct.