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Jeanne Murray Walker

Miniature Psalm: Complaint in Autumn

You claim you've weighed the mountains
in your scales. But have you noticed

lately small chunks of the world are falling off?
I sweep leaves from the walk. The oak,

like the mainmast of a warship, towers above me,
sending down more of its brown hands,

which hardly weigh a thing. And me? I'm just
a bit of bone and hair. My vessels, commonplace

as finishing nails that hold our house together.
Your thunder shakes my teeth. On our hillside,

little fingers of drizzle pick the last chrysanthemums
to pieces. I don't bear a grudge, mind you,

I only wonder if you could step closer, whisper
something smaller. Back in the house now,

wiping my feet, I hear scratching. A dentist
with his pick. Or a mouse, maybe.

Brilliant eyes, cowlicky fur, and in her genetic coding,
years of wiles from research labs. As she helps herself

to our birdseed, I think I hear her breathing.
Okay, I think, okay. What she is, can't help,

didn't ask for, and is doomed to love—herself.
I flick on the porch light to keep her safe

from owls. I can almost see us from the road, a tiny
house, hanging like one last gold leaf in the oak tree.

—Jeanne Murray Walker is the author most recently of New Tracks, Night Falling (Eerdmans), a poem from which is included in The Best American Poetry 2009.

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