Taking the Auspices at Bald Hills
We invoke lex Ogulnia
below the schoolhouse fire lookout,
claim our right to know our chances:
three buzzards, then four, float
over a lightning-struck oak splayed
above the barren valley,
a ring of shadows circling east
and dissolving on the downslope.
A dozen meadowlarks flush
ahead of us, banking as one in
a stutter of wings like a wheel coming
loose. Wind lays the brown grass flat.
We read the signs closely, looking
for a loophole here beyond the fog line:
we want a child so badly.
Our empire is crumbling. This morning
the car stuttered twice turning over,
I chipped a tooth on a walnut shell—
meaning is bound up in the belly of
everything: you disagree but nearly
cry at the dried body of a mouse.
The gods let us know when we’ve
overreached. A goshawk screeches,
you fiddle with your wedding ring.
Jeff Ewing's poems, stories, and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Willow Springs, Sugar House Review, Crazyhorse, Saint Ann's Review, and Lake Effect, among others. He lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and daughter.