Presently

Let’s say I am writing you a better story. Happily
ever after? Wait. Here you are, still tangled
in the thicket. Struggle, scraping by, grief
from earth to sky, as far as you can see.
You wanted a fairy tale? Wait. You are the hero
down, broken, sword at your throat. But. Any moment
the coin will spin. Let’s say we take you forward,
through the tunnel and out, over the walls…

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The Coming of the Dog

So. In a low season, tag-end of winter
and time on our hands (an illusion), did we
feel two teens still at home, two rodents, a cat
not enough? Not that our love couldn’t stretch so
far. Did we need to give without guilt or fear
of spoilage? (a softening too soon into
grandparent-mind, accepting these unfinished
offspring as imperfect, and by our own fault.)

We begin again. Well. She knows a few things
about respecting furniture, sleeping through
the shortening nights. But see, how she needs me
and how I fail again in wrestling, running,
being best friend. Don’t say, unconditional
love. I am more than proof against those brown eyes,
their eloquent pleas.

contemplation 2

stunned, chained—where is this cog in the great machine,
this puzzling piece in the grand design? is my part beauty,
remembering, simple love? how does beauty stand
against a landslide? how does memory shine
in a millennium’s weight of darkness? how does love open
one fist, finger by finger by finger, and then the next?
can the chain be fingers clasped, my one hand holding yours
or the children I give, having built them of love?

Inspired by Hafiz, “The Heart’s Coronation,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

“The pawn always sits stunned, chained,

there is nothing but divine movement
in this world.”

A life history in suburban plantings

We’re a flower-hungry people, so you know “bloom where you’re planted”: from that land of live oak, bluebonnets, prickly pear you grow in a neighborhood draped with ivy and crepe myrtle. Rooted shallow and wide. Your own first garden unshaded, broad-bladed grass framed by marigold, vinca, mint.

What root traces your steps

to prairie snow, sugar beets, lilac by the door? The spreading apple tree, dandelion spring. Your first taste of hate for forsythia follows to southern pine forests, thin wood at playground’s edge, understory ferns’ moist heat.

What love for a place you never belonged?

Thinking to settle: the huge rain-flopped peony, ants swarming on the buds, short burst of cerise and the cheerful yellow rose. In back, a fragrant heirloom shrub (so your children shower you with petals).

What root graces your steps

to a place of language you can’t speak? Though you can hear its nature through the soles of your feet. Rosenbogen wreathed in pink, balcony view of trellised garnet-red, scented cream-peach Vorstadt walk.

Such love for a place you never belonged.

Now you are here, tamed by hosta, daylily, boxwood hedge. Your roses true knockouts (though bees don’t care) gleaming ruby in the light. Heart-shriveled, craving green-wild and the overthrow of mulch.

What root tangles your steps

and what blame if you guard yourself from sinking right in? You’re the dandelion fluff blown by any new wind…

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