Under Mercury Retrograde
Scout Council, April 1, 1987
Cherokee Forest, Tennessee
A turtle peering out of its house
is our welcome home, six feet
from where we park the truck.
Then we see
an aphid in the socket of one eye,
Dead turtle, greeting us
on behalf of the continent that
carries its name.
Under Mercury retrograde
on the hillside of a perfect afternoon
we meet to council over maps of the forest.
The place is beautiful, green for spring,
the French Broad River high and hurrying
against its banks, mountains
shaped by some slow whimsy of the sky—
The continent is talking to us:
children making up a new game, empty cans
whose names the rain has washed away.