Lantern Review

Brynn Saito

Getting Clear

Now I know better my mother making peace
with noises in the dark behind the farmhouse
on nights it was her turn to execute a chore.
I know about the calls made to local bars
at her mother’s request to find her father.
Sometimes burgers and shakes at the day’s end
were enough. Sometimes the sea coast
in the heat of dead summer was reachable.
So they’d load the car and drive for hours.
They’d pull on their boots and walk
into seawater with buckets for clams.

In the Great Central Valley the hand of God
lies flat on the land as the light strengthens.
Night comes on like a curtain, pulled by a flock
of migrating birds. I used to lie on my back
to watch them cross the sky in an unbroken V.
I’d look up in wonder. How does a family
learn to fly like that? How do they know
the best seasons for leaving?