Merwin said on the last day of the world
he would plant a tree
Not for the fruit bearer
but for the one that stands
in the earth for the first time
Innocence. Wonder. Remembrance.
That the first and ever ancient spirits are ants and spiders
And the land is God
So when I step out into night I can feel their quiet work
Stare and crouch
with the fervor of one who has unearthed a city lost
to the wrong kind of unknowing
Glance and brood
over either shoulder, wary of thieves
But it’s just myself and the many legged gods
whose caps like the crowns of teeth
suggest roots unseen, dark and vulnerable
whose mortality I know if I too bare my outstretched limbs
That faith in life is moved by
a delicate and dreadful energy that is Love
How can I not feel this
I want the hawk to eat and
I want the dove to thrive
The impossibility breaks my heart wide open
in agony and ecstasy
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.