Born to the veil
peeled out like a peach with the old iron knife
rose quartz, slow flesh, thin newness in January air.
His grandmother kept the caul for luck
pressed between the pages of her bible
and the old ways.
His silvern eyes mirrored the tarnished coin his mother slipped in to his fist
Droplets of hope, heavy on small lids
and when he lifted them
he saw his first ghost
over the priest’s shoulder,
her gauzy lips grazing his cheek.
His luck was the vaporous three-legged dog that followed him everywhere.
Its dusky warmth on his feet,
the comfort he could not sleep without
for there were too many nights
his dreams had the flavor of ash and mire
and he would wake, panting,
the heat of his fear snatched by the cold nights.
In the village
the girls asked him who they would marry
until he told the raven-haired her sailor floated somewhere in the Atlantic,
the ring he bought her in Portugal
resting on a finger of coral.
The white heather his mother tucked in to his cap
stayed green, even past the dream of her prostrate in the market square—
He warned her against buying apples In autumn,
but in September, he felt the tell-tale jolt of loss,
keen as raven’s wing through cloud
dropped the plough, sprinting through the fields of winter wheat.
His gasps matching hers
the viscous pump of blood through ventricles
one stream running dry.
At the apple stall
the copper eyes of the butcher’s wife
burned holes in his heart
as he watched his mother’s soul
drift from her breast into the ether.
It slipped by his hands, goose down through fingers,
formless, aimless love that would spin itself into grief
the cloak woven from its threads
one he would wear
for the rest of his days.
In Western folklore, children born with cauls (amniotic sac still on) are considered lucky, and sometimes the ability to see ghosts and predict the future.