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He counts his fingers.
No fewer than the previous day,
also no more. Enough to plinck
from one note to the next
What he does, does not count
so much; enough to think
of small, simple procedures
that can be performed
in a single afternoon.
Charred branches block the trail,
leave marks on the skin
in passing. Squeeze by and
smudge your ankles.
The creek drops off granite blocks
and finds slots to sit in,
blue pools with tiny wet frogs
trilling. Get in the water,
let the charcoal soak away,
let little hairs on your body dry
and leap unstuck
in the sun, one by one.
Time stamp please.
I'm a little behind. The one below is #19.
The procession goes under a bridge
like a slow flood; winking lights
against the concrete, incense smoke
sleeking out of wagging thuribles
swung around by skeleton-priests.
I have a bell; I ring it
every so often, no plan. I wait
for a place in the drum beats
where it makes sense. On the bridge,
on the sidewalks, spectators howl
as we pass beneath. Puppets
wave at them, and I roll my tongue
in a Pancho Villa cheer that bounces
off the smoky air, and sound the bell
one sharp 'ding' when we emerge.