Yettem , California

Further up the passage small fires
Blink with the distance of stars
The horses wide-eyed and still
Make no conversation

The old men with stories of animals
Nod with children in their laps
Young men spin wheels of fortune
And come to bed last with eyes open

The women temper over the river
The heat of an absent bed
And packing for early rise
Undressing lengths of hair
Speak under lips
With curled tongues

Half and half the moon rises yellow
Over the milky haze of many lights
And streets of the market
Seven pockets of gold
Wait like the sun to rise

After midnight the only watchmen are the old
Who keep silent stories among themselves
With the motion of sleep, never sleep
Eyes with the gestures of an owl
Branch the oak
So calmly webbed their shadows seem invisible
The quick journey below

“Come,” said the Reaper,
“My hands are cold
And the world is still.”