October 10

Sharing a birthday with her mother
the girl calls to say thank you
at the same time the mother calls
to remind her to wear silk pajamas.

It is humid for October,
the pajamas will cool her.
She will know silk because
it does not crease when folded.

The girl nods across the line.
With her mother, she does not need to use
all the words she knows:
lachrymose, conifer, marmalade.

There is something wonderful
about having a word for everything.
The world feels so full when you can hold
whole species of trees in your mouth.

The girl walks through the fall foliage
speaking the names of birds:  egret,
cardinal, sparrow, guinea fowl.
Dusk falls and the whippoorwills emerge.

When her mother landed in this country,
not knowing what to call peonies
or black-eyed susans, how, among all the flowers,
did she manage to survive?