There she is.
I wondered how she’d look tonight
when earlier today
I swept free the cobwebs from the legs of a patio chair.
Irritable and stately,
half a cloud sliding from one nude shoulder.
Radiant and hungry,
searching for the approval she knows she deserves.
Wide eyed and watchful
99.7 percent full
encountering the events of the world
just as it is today:
November on the coat of a cat.
Crickets at precisely 7:58 PM.
and my mother,
sliding in a pan of cupcakes for my birthday.
What if all our little deaths
are as beautiful as fall?
even the savage that swallows us
wears on its face
our sweet aftertaste
for others to see.
Who’s to say a leaf whirling casually
to its end
doesn’t feel in its dry vein
the same absurdity as cancer
or a broken heart?
It all reminds me of this strange dream I had last night
where I inherited a mansion
historic and regal
the smallest one in a row
of like majesty
but in the basement
rats were eating other rats
and larger rodents paced in cages
all I really remember now
is how beautiful the light looked in the upstairs window.
If I accomplished nothing else today
I planted nepeta cataria
inside the broad mouth of a flower pot
leftover from my grandfather’s passing.
I held a pony tail of her sticky locks
and considered long the origin of her species,
the ancient quality of dirt unearthed
with five extra heaves of a shovel,
and of Annie Dillard for no good reason at all,
ruffling the tips of winter-killed grass
with the flat of her palm.
Loving her not for those words
but for how they make me know her.
I whispered nepeta cataria
for the animal of that root bundle
to rouse with startled delight
inside the dark.
I stumbled upon an old photo of us
This slow Saturday
breeze in my brain
turned it over
and there I am
on my parent’s roof with you
4th of July
grinning into the crook of your neck
our sleeping daughter beneath our bodies
on that tiny couch
my mom bought her for Christmas
I don’t recall seeing any fireworks until
we stood to climb down the ladder
Flowers of light collapsing
that only I remember
I’ve had many independence days since then
each one stuck to the dark overhead
I press my ear against
The soul is like Jesus
Bare feet in both worlds
Everything here has one
The dirt soul
The cow soul
The man soul
The sea soul
The bird soul
The world soul
I think it’s so we never forget each other
One long bridge
So time makes sense
Especially when it doesn’t
I like to imagine all of us sober tonight
Our aching bodies
This mundane human throb
Delicious, honest to God fatigue
After hours at the office
Hours of tidying the house or pruning the rose bushes
Or moving all my books from the bedroom to the living room to make room for a dresser set my Grandfather left me
And being awake enough to wonder why there’s a space between the word living room and not the other
And finding a forgotten purchase of Billy Collins Picnic, Lightning
Reading him in bed until my cat settles next to my head
Soft and groaning like the small of my back
Then rolling over into the darkness to rub the arches of my feet together like the crickets outside my window
I can hold my daughter’s compassion in firelight
one tiny log at a time
make it last
her ashes falling into my cup
I can hold the weight of the moon in my breath
one porcelain eye on my chest
make me see
her ashes falling into my cup
I can hold my soul in the sinew of both hands
one sacred goddess rising
make her return
as ashes falling into my cup