What I took to be desert bighorns
running straight up the ridge making
a sound like breaking plates didn’t
turn out to be either of those things,
& what I took to be fog shoplifting
the top half of the mountain was really
something more like the problem
with trying to remember your childhood
from pictures of your childhood.
It was the blackened stump with arms
fooling me on the hillside again,
telling me to go buy a curtain
I didn’t need at all, & it was the fire
you must sometimes light on purpose
& the swallow that repeated
all powerful to them was the sun,
& it was that sun still marching
up the cliff like an army that made me
wonder why the apples were smaller
this year, and so quick. We used to take
pictures of people taking pictures
& call it memory. We used to call
nostalgia an illness caused by swelling
of the brain. The painter has been trying
for days to get the color of the mountain
just right, the yellowed skirts the agave
wear in late July, other patches almost
ashen against that face. One good cloud
changes everything. The bighorn haven’t
lived here for ninety years. I was thinking
this might be a way to say someone
once tried hard to water Bone Canyon
& that there are worse things than
the only pictures from your childhood
having been taking while opening gifts.