Here everything is a list of its details:
the surface of crow feather where it bows,
or echo of whippoorwill through the closed window
over the bed. The chiggers and the slow-creeping
cedar trees, milkweed webbed with spittlebug,
and the grass above and below ground,
mirroring out from a single point
of root and longing.
I'm landed here, in the center of something
not my own doing, and although I keep thinking
I'm alone, I'm dying, I'm afraid,
I'm making all that up.
The man I love is coming out of the woods,
the long crescent of his body closer, bowing to touch
something, say its name.
When he stands back up, he walks slowly to show me
whatever we think of love is just the aerial view
that tells you nothing compared to the soft green stems
that curl and fall with the wind, compared to how each step
across the grass is a form of falling
out of and into what losses make life possible.
The quick flashes, like the sun balancing
on the lip of the horizon right before
it goes out, like that moment the field golds
everything opaque, like how love strips us
out of the stories we have for love.
in Midwest Quarterly
What Would Happen If You Walked Here?
What would happen if you opened to something
so totally beyond human that it dissolved your borders
into bluestem? What if it rained and you got wet?
What if you understood not just that the earth tilted
but that it tilted right through your spine
and thatís why you occasionally fall over?
Nothing prepares you for the real.
Thereís no journey out of this except the one
that separates your bones from your thoughts,
your tendons from the lines of your desire.
In the giant mouth of the dark,
in the opening screen of the dark,
in the bottom of the pot of the dark,
is the dark that isnít so dark.
In the myriad call of meadowlark layered on siren
of coyote upon clanging of wind in cottonwood tree
is also the sound of no sound, too.
Nothing can prepare you for the speed of the universe.
Nothing can steady you enough to absorb even the fact
that light travels millions of years to get to your eyes,
that the dissolved dust of stars are your thoughts
and your thinking, that the sky is so big, that the dirt is
made of bones and breath, that thereís nothing heavier
than the ocean, that thereís no such thing as exact replicas
in the seasons, and that seasons pour through us like rain
or dust whether weíre paying attention or not,
that a rabbit can outrun you in your prime, that language
is only partially made of words, that the earth cannot help
but to keep recycling you into something better.
Magnolia Tree in Kansas
This is the tree that breaks
into blossom too early each March,
killing its flowers. This is the tree
that hums anyway in its pool of fallen
petals, pink as moonlight. Not a bouquet
on a stick. Not a lost mammal in the clearing
although it looks like both with its explosions
of rosy boats Ė illuminated, red-edged.
Not a human thing but closer to what we might be
than the careful cedar or snakeskin sycamore.
It cries. It opens. It submits. In the pinnacle
of its stem and the pits of its fruitless fruit,
it knows how a song can break the singer.
In the brass of its wind, it sings anyway.
Tree of all breaking. Tree of all upsidedown.
Tree that hurts in its bones and doesnít care.
Tree of the first exhalation
landing and swaying, perfume and death,
all arms and no legs. Tree that never
learns to hold back.
Originally published in Lawrence Journal-World
I live just south of the poetic,
where the glaciers stopped short, sloped down
to nothing. Now low-flying catfish line
the brown rivers while the valleys go flat
as clavicles edging into erosion and horizon.
The grass, obsessive as always,
runs itself oblivious,
and the cedar trees wave,
one arm, then another,
as if under water.
I live where the sky, dense and
exhausted, complains all smug and blue
that nothing ever happens here,
and leans asleep on its elbows in the corner.
It dreams what we mean: that we can only
locate ourselves in the weather that maps us
but canít be mapped ahead of itself.
Here thereís no way to know whatís coming,
or whatís gone, the big bluestem being as tall as it is.
The wind comes. The wind goes. The sun climbs
around the corner and returns at its appointed time.
The windows shake in the storm that can pick up a field,
undress it, place it back down.
When I try to say where I am, I can only
point to the rushing everywhere
the mind tries to be still,
and in that wind, the stillness
that holds a single glance of switchgrass
up to the light before letting it go.
Originally published in Planet Drum Pulse
All poetry on this page
Copyright © by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg,