Kevin Craft


Alluvial Fan

The cold blew in counterclockwise,

snow in the passes, April leaning hard

against the sill. In the lowlands it just rained

clear rain, dousing the cherry, filling the tulips

with shine. They turned off the dialysis machine

and the cold descended quickly,

in the quiet of the morning one met one

coming through mist like a far off locomotive

all headlight blur and speed shaking the blossoms

to the ground. It would be thunder in another

language, it would be time to start this journey

across the continent on foot. The cold descended

from the passes into the boot soles of the traveler.

His voice went out to greet those in the thaw.


April 2019







First I spot the jay.

Flashing like that impossible deep

blue staring into outer space

there it is—Steller’s jay

photobombing the flowerbed,

poking for loose seed

or some grub shivering

in the upturned muck—

stratospheric the bright-

dark wings, almost orbital

the peaked crest

chiseled out of dusk.


In spring there is this opening in the weather

only a jay can fill—gray rain passing

eastward over the lakes, the pink

of cherry blossoms dripping, pacific daylight

crowding into every budding leaf—


one jay calling to another here here.

Wherever you call from

what answers

isn’t smoke alarm or childhood

or the book of revelation

though any jay can pierce the sky

with crying,


what answers is the quick wisp

of a bushtit alighting in the vine maple

followed by another

and another,

a swarm of chittering bushtits

filling the maple with the dignity

of numbers, a collective noun

widening into pure responsibility.


For a minute I watch them

take turns chastising the jay’s

on-again off-again

gravedigger demeanor

then move on

one at a time—touch and go—

arrow splitting

the infinitive’s need.