The Raspberries in My Driveway
Nature will bear the closest inspection. She
Invites us to lay our eyes level with her
Smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its
in my driveway
(for the whole eleven years
I have owned
but have not owned
I have never
Always on a plane.
Always in the arms
of man, not God,
always too busy,
that all along
are red, red raspberries
for me to taste.
Shiny and red,
unlike the berries
from the market.
I share them
with the birds!
On one perches
a tiny green insect.
I blow her off.
I burst the raspberry
upon my tongue.
In my solitude
with the world.
The world was always
if you are so beautiful
upon my ready tongue,
lie in store
Washing My Face
Rising to face him, head-on, man-to-man,
above the basin’s unreflecting depths,
I stare into the mirror. He’s back.
This is the moment, inescapable
to dawn, at least, the moment I come clean.
The day will take me far from this miracle.
Faces I will put on! Mirrors I’ll break
so I can’t see my tongue twisted to lie,
warping another sentence, just to please!
Or—why not admit it—keep someone distant
that I can remain locked in solitary.
Now, while I shave the night away,
I have these minutes for a small resolve.
Let me remember how clear water tastes
this second, eye-to-eye with what I am.
When the waiter brought the almond liquor
as courtesy to our table,
I hesitated, remembering Augustine’s sin,
the one rewarded by nothing,
neither the delicious anticipation
nor the fall. But the fragrance of a flowering
orchard told me my sin would be rewarded
if I took my first drink in twenty years,
and even as my chorus chattered,
did the work I’m too lazy to do—
this one hates me because I’m a drunk,
this one forgives and says I sought the spiritual
in the spirit’s clear distillation, and this one
suggests the timing is right—I knew enough
to know they all could be wrong. And when
I reread Augustine just now, I found
how much I’d misremembered. As a boy,
he’d stolen pears fit only for pigs, yet ate them
anyway. He wanted to taste forbidden fruit
and so did I. My almost sin lived
for its moment with the ringing bells, wild
horses and lush tremolos accompanying a fall.
But when the music faded, I saw
two of us were there—
me and you, the one I will not hurt,
who drank my flowering orchard for me.
We come to love our difficulties
and our complications
most of all for having made
necessary whatever little frill
or damned ingenious adaptation we
display. Shapes so minutely, lavishly
symmetrical they seem to stand
for some sublime invisible
philosophy. Color beyond
what anyone could claim
was necessary; extravagant
stories where bare facts should suffice.
It is the finely wrought
detail that captivates us; not
the thing you’ve said, but how you’ve said it.
Red flag, little sword, the leaf blade cruciform
in section, showy
spikes secund, one-sided. The bisexual
flowers in all their aureate
yardages of a richly colored silk
fabric, the filiform
styles held out like bowls,
like spoons—just begging for it
Amy Glynn Greacen
Rabbit Faunascape by WhatWeDo
How to Love
After stepping into the world again,
there is that question of how to love,
how to bundle yourself against the frosted morning—
the crunch of icy grass underfoot, the scrape
of cold wipers along the windshield—
and convert time into distance.
What song to sing down an empty road
as you begin your morning commute?
And is there enough in you to see, really see,
the three wild turkeys crossing the street
with their featherless heads and stilt-like legs
in search of a morning meal? Nothing to do
but hunker down, wait for them to safely cross.
As they amble away, you wonder if they want
to be startled back into this world. Maybe you do, too,
waiting for all this to give way to love itself,
to look into the eyes of another and feel something—
the pleasure of a new lover in the unbroken night,
your wings folded around him, on the other side
of this ragged January, as if a long sleep has ended.
Cherishing What Isn’t
Ah, you three women whom I have loved in this
long life, along with the few others.
And the four I may have loved, or stopped short
of loving. I wander through these woods
making songs of you. Some of regret, some
of longing, and a terrible one of death.
I carry the privacy of your bodies
and hearts in me. The shameful ardor
and the shameless intimacy, the secret kinds
of happiness and the walled-up childhoods.
I carol loudly of you among trees emptied
of winter and rejoice quietly in summer.
A score of women if you count love both large
and small, real ones that were brief
and those that lasted. Gentle love and some
almost like an animal with its prey.
What is left is what’s alive in me. The failing
of your beauty and its remaining.
You are like countries in which my love
took place. Like a bell in the trees
that makes your music in each wind that moves.
A music composed of what you have forgotten.
That will end with my ending.
Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock
I can support it no longer.
Laughing ruefully at myself
For all I claim to have suffered
I get up. Damned nightmarer!
It is New Hampshire out here,
It is nearly the dawn.
The song of the whippoorwill stops
And the dimension of depth seizes everything.
The whistles of a peabody bird go overhead
Like a needle pushed five times through the air,
They enter the leaves, and come out little changed.
The air is so still
That as they go off through the trees
The love songs of birds do not get any fainter.
The last memory I have
Is of a flower that cannot be touched,
Through the bloom of which, all day,
Fly crazed, missing bees.
As I climb sweat gets up my nostrils,
For an instant I think I am at the sea,
One summer off Cap Ferrat we watched a black seagull
Straining for the dawn, we stood in the surf,
Grasshoppers splash up where I step,
The mountain laurel crashes at my thighs.
There is something joyous in the elegies
Of birds. They seem
Caught up in a formal delight,
Though the mourning dove whistles of despair.
But at last in the thousand elegies
The dead rise in our hearts,
On the brink of our happiness we stop
Like someone on a drunk starting to weep.
I kneel at a pool,
I look through my face
At the bacteria I think
I see crawling through the moss.
My face sees me,
The water stirs, the face,
Gets knocked from its bones.
I weighed eleven pounds
At birth, having stayed on
Two extra weeks in the womb.
Tempted by room and fresh air
I came out big as a policeman
Blue-faced, with narrow red eyes.
It was eight days before the doctor
Would scare my mother with me.
Turning and craning in the vines
I can make out through the leaves
The old, shimmering nothingness, the sky.
Green, scaly moosewoods ascend,
Tenants of the shaken paradise,
At every wind last night’s rain
Comes splattering from the leaves,
It drops in flurries and lies there,
The footsteps of some running start.
From a rock
A single trickle like a strand of wire,
Breaks into beads halfway down.
The birds fly off
But the hug of the earth wraps
With moss their graves and the giant boulders.
In the forest I discover a flower.
The invisible life of the thing
Goes up in flames that are invisible,
Like cellophane burning in the sunlight.
It burns up. Its drift is to be nothing.
In its covertness it has a way
Of uttering itself in place of itself,
Its blossoms claim to float in the Empyrean,
A wrathful presence on the blur of the ground.
The appeal to heaven breaks off.
The petals begin to fall, in self-forgiveness.
It is a flower. On this mountainside it is dying.
The Last Perfect Season
No one knew it then, but that was the last
perfect season, the last time sky and earth
were so balanced that when we walked,
we flew, the last time we could pick a crate
of strawberries every morning in June,
the last time the mystical threshing
machine appeared at the edge of the field,
dividing the oats from the chaff, time of
hollyhocks and sprinklers, white clouds over
a tin roof. Everyone we knew was young then.
Our mothers wore dresses the color of
dove wings, slim at the waist, skirts flaring
just enough to let the folds drape slightly,
like the elegant suits our fathers wore,
shirts so white they dazzled even
the grainy eye of the camera when
we looked down into the viewfinder to
press the button that would keep us there,
as if we already knew that this was
as good as it was ever going to get.
Sharon Van Etten and Zach Condon.
A few words go a long way between us;
as they must, since not much time
remains for more than this.
I saw you standing on the fire escape,
arms spread wide to catch the setting sun,
head tossed back, shoulders
flirting with the shadows,
as if you could elude the waning day,
or time and again could become one,
or time could stand still between lovers,
not knowing what tomorrow brings,
nor caring where yesterday we walked,
like phrases, not quite nonsense,
but with a logic and connection
not at all designed until they meet
in composition, improvised, like a blues—
no melody planned, but only trusting
our sense of intervals.
Perch, Amy Judd. Click over to her flickr for many more lovely images.
When I Was Straight
I did not love women as I do now.
I loved them with my eyes closed, my back turned.
I loved them silent, & startled, & shy.
The world was a dreamless slumber party,
sleeping bags like straitjackets spread out on
the living room floor, my face pressed into a
All night I woke to rain on the strangers’ windows.
No one remembered to leave a light on in the hall.
Someone’s father seemed always to be shaving.
When I stood up, I tried to tiptoe
around the sleeping bodies, their long hair
speckled with confetti, their faces blanched by the
I never knew exactly where the bathroom was.
I tried to wake the host girl to ask her, but she was
only one adrift in that sea of bodies. I was ashamed
to say they all looked the same to me, beautiful &
untouchable as stars. It would be years before
I learned to find anyone in the sumptuous,
Tinguage (hapax legomenon)
What you do to me. With me. What I’ve
Learned to do with you. A language
Of bliss, a sublingual, interlingual,
Bilingual tale that lasts from labial
Lark through the long light of dawn.
A trickle of terroir layered in taste, liquid
As thirst. More than touch, less than labor,
This lesson in tilt and lather. The tang of a lyre
Of skin, a lick of liberal tact in tandem.
Our own langue d’oc, turtled in time
And tinkered by thrill. It’s not lex, not law—
But logos, the tabor and talisman of love.