I’ve never visited Montana
so the picture in my mind comes from billboards
hung above the clogged streets of my city—
bighorn sheep staring out at us
from a mountain meadow, under the words
There’s nothing here, as if they were only
ghosts of sheep gone missing.
I can’t imagine the view from the kitchen
where Barbara sits at the table
with a cup of coffee, already a little cold
when the phone rings—my call.
She can’t see out the window either
because, as she tells me, she is nearly blind.
The computer screen informs me
of her name, address, and age: 98.
She doesn’t remember where she put
the absentee ballot I’ve asked about
but a friend will help her find it.
Her mother won the right to vote
the year Barbara was born, so of course
she’ll send in the ballot.
Her mother expects it of her;
she was always after Barbara
to put things where they belong.

In the awkward silence while I decide
whether to nudge the conversation back
toward the next question in the script
or laugh My mother too,
a rooster crows outside that window
that is opaque to us both.
Nothing there but bighorn sheep
and roosters, and women who remember
their mothers’ battles.