The Apaches whirl low and loud
over the house today. They rattle the timbers,
they quaver the trees, shaking off twigs
and the empty nests of last year’s birds.
There are all kinds of birds
in the air here: the broad black wings
of bickering crows, the silent gliding circles
of hawks, distant Chinook and low Apache.
My father would know the variations
by the shape of the nose or the rotor’s whoop:
D-model from A, but I know them only by lazy
or rushing, by swoop or hover, when the sky is blue.
Day and night, when the weather is nice,
you hear them call to each other:
the stutter and cough of the gun on the nose,
the singular boom of rockets on the range.
No where else has these kinds of birds.
No where else feels loud enough without them.
What I found in the earth at Brierfield:
shards of white china, a deer bone knife,
a slave mother’s beads carved by hand,
and what I found in the earth at Tannehill:
two thousand iron nails, door hinges,
hearth stones still scented with rain and earth.
In the clay, I even excavated myself.
A survey of conquered lands:
fifteen telephone poles, three
valleys, and the wire skeleton
of a fence line an acre back
from the curve of the porch.
Seven feet a week, when the
weather’s right: humid enough
for the vines to suckle water
right out the August air. Drought
can’t kill it, just makes it sleep,
twisted, drying in the Alabama sun,
until the clouds give back the rain,
and its endless gnawing march resumes.
Burn it if you like:
set fire to the vines and watch
flames curl up hillsides like
shedding leg hair with a match,
but all that does it make it
a little more eager to sprout.
Here’s a secret to keep your head
afloat under the encroaching tide:
kudzu’s worst nightmare — a pair of
small white goats.