Advice for Former Selves
–P.K. PageRemembering you and reviewingour structural lovethe past re-arises alivefrom its smothering dust.For memory, which is only decadentin hands like a miser’sloving the thing for its thingness,or in the eyes of collectors who assessthe size, the incredible size, of their collection,can, in the living head, create and makenew the sometimes appallingly ancient presentand sting the sleeping thingto a sudden seeing.And as a tree with all its leaves relaxedcan shiver at the memory of windor the still waters of a pool recalltheir springing origin and rise and fallsuddenly over the encircling basin’s lip—so I, remembering from now to then,can know and see and feel again, as jewelsmust when held in a brilliant branch of sun.
To move the language toward happiness,
or failing that, toward love. Like this:
the trees have undone their sandals and silk saris,
thrown light scarves down onto the brickwork.
One red thread is caught mid-air on an updraft,
held by a spider web. Remember the way
he described the green soup he moved through
coming out of surgery? A swift current
of warm water, swirling and turning among
floating cylinders, friends inside them talking.
Next door the little boy swings higher and higher.
His half-scream is also half-laugh — more, more.
Follow the vowels; laudanum, potpourri, chrysanthemum.
Trust the verbs: to meander, to sashay, to bear up.
Today, Another Universe
The arborist has determined:
senescence beetles canker
quickened by drought
but in any case
not prunable not treatable not to be propped.
The branch from which the sharp-shinned hawks and their mate-cries.
The trunk where the ant.
The red squirrels’ eighty foot playground.
The bark cambium pine-sap cluster of needles.
The Japanese patterns the ink-net.
The dapple on certain fish.
Today, for some, a universe will vanish.
then just another silence.
The silence of after, once the theater has emptied.
Of bewilderment after the glacier,
the species, the star.
Something else, in the scale of quickening things,
will replace it,
this hole of light in the light, the puzzled birds swerving around it.
After Your Death
First, I emptied the closets of your clothes,
threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised
from your touch, left empty the jars
you bought for preserves. The next morning,
birds rustled the fruit trees, and later
when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem,
I found it half eaten, the other side
already rotting, or—like another I plucked
and split open—being taken from the inside:
a swarm of insects hollowing it. I’m too late,
again, another space emptied by loss.
Tomorrow, the bowl I have yet to fill.