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September 6, 2016

on not waiting

Maybe she pressed “send” too quickly. Maybe the urge to get this one thing off her chest
uncoiled the patience inside her, freed the spring from its usual taut remove, and now -
seeing the sloshy mud of words mirrored back - she wonders if maybe a little more time
would have given them a more graceful tint. And yet, there was certain thrill collapsing the space
between thought and deed, pinching the window of her usual contemplation to a slimmer crack.
The oceans are rising catastrophically. An earthquake leveled an entire Italian village in seconds.
The boy who was 6 years old yesterday is now driving the turnpike. How long must the shadow
stretch before we leap? Even the hatchling hawk descends from its dark, canopied perch before
it knows its wings, exactly. Even the faintest scratchings leave their mark, however
hieroglyphic, unfolding one poem at a time, petal by visible petal.


August 30, 2016

strange brew

No one told you it would be like this: a Monday night, pulled
from the reverie of a Netflix documentary and into the theater
of a hospital hallway and the cluster of the wounded waiting there.
You watch the medics wheel in a woman with no socks on; her husband
trails the gurney, carrying her shoes. Minutes later, a newborn
with a troubling rash on his cheeks. A waitress clutching her elbow. A young man's shoulder
bent at a Neanderthal angle. No one is prepared, and yet, as the hours toil on,
the lines between your stories blur, and each time the orderlies come by,
you gaze at each other in a strange brew of hope and surrender, your bodies caught
in a private stillness yet reaching out, in wild and tender innocence, to dance.


August 23, 2016

returning home, I encounter an avocado

The drive is pockmarked with stops for gas and weak coffee,
snacks in indestructible foil packets and cinnamon gum that loses its sweetness
far too soon. Those final days, we angle back on highways that could pass
for siblings, going for speed, and I realize as I press harder on the pedal
I'm not quite sure what I'm coming back to; the way out always feels simpler
than the way back in. And then, just like that, a driveway, and a package
on the front stoop: avocados from a friend in California. At dinner, we slice the fruit
in two and see the continent of green inside, dig in with eager spoons.
Maybe it's true, how good things never last, and yet here, on this last day,
such goodness, each bite ripe as a back road twisting just slightly out of view.


August 16, 2016

the quiet hum of industry

You wouldn't have noticed she was making a bookshelf out of paper, or
that he was figuring the math for a skateboard ramp, or how the backyard
was plotting next summer's harvest. It would have been impossible to recognize
the musician turning an ear toward a field of rustling corn, or a painter
puzzling over the weave of a blank canvas, or that writer in a hotel room in North Carolina,
her fingers on a warm keyboard, remembering the steps all over again. But this
is where the work gets done, this quiet hum of industry, away from the world's
fluorescent attention, with a beauty untheatric as a sea lion tottering off the docks at Pier 39
and into the salted, murky waters of the Pacific, where no one can see his eyes
lifting toward a filmy horizon or his back, gleaming with moonlight.


August 9, 2016

poems for ice cream

Two bottles of water for the smile during a heat wave. Extra towels for asking
where she got her necklace, which led to a conversation about New Mexico.
The room with a better view for the tired look that comes from a road trip.
A bill pressed into a palm for time with a swatch of paper and the small,
healing burst of art that followed. The books from her great-grandfather for a reason
that may not reveal itself for years. When I passed through the Paris airport,
I knew exactly what to expect at the exchange booth, the numbers down
to the decimal point. But here, in the country of the heart, lives another currency entirely,
the scale seesawing in a million directions, where what you give is always, always
more than enough.