–José A. Alcantara
He has flown headfirst against the glass
and now lies stunned on the stone patio,
nothing moving but his quick beating heart.
So you go to him, pick up his delicate
body and hold him in the cupped palms
of your hands. You have always known
he was beautiful, but it’s only now, in his stillness,
in his vulnerability, that you see the miracle
of his being, how so much life fits in so small
a space. And so you wait, keeping him warm
against the unseasonable cold, trusting that
when the time is right, when he has recovered
both his strength and his sense of up and down,
he will gather himself, flutter once or twice,
and then rise, a streak of dazzling
color against a slowly lifting sky.
I shove through bush and bed,
stumping along our house. Somewhere
I learned not to let the plants grow
too close, something about air flow, rot,
our home’s slow demolition by vine.
I wrap my hand around a dandelion,
pull into the tension, breathless
for the slight snap of roots, then harder,
until the earth releases it, or it gives up
its hold on the ground. I sunder
something deep, throw the plant
with its knot of dirt
to the driveway. The foliage
extends. A branch slaps back,
leaves an archipelago of blood
along my calf. Another, another,
I don’t know their names, just
pull with faith in the prior owner,
in her fertile excess that even my blunders
won’t undo. One white twig
feels hollow, comes loose in my hand,
but what of it was underground is red
as a crime, bent and beckoning.
The spring’s first accidental sweat
catches in the corners of my squint.
When I stand upright, survey
my labor, nothing looks better.
–Dawn Lundy Martin
She said, I wish I prayed, I would pray for you. And,
we all wanted a shape of prayer in our brains, taking over
instead of it chomping on itself. Stupid little elf. God has
never come to me. We surrender in the teeming utterance
of materials soaked with sentences already made in air
and by machines. The country says Freedom, crushed under
its own dream weight. I did not make up this song. Design
Within Reach is having a “Work from home sale.” The coming
apart, the giant laceration across the sky, we all feel it. Look
at the fire, look at it, like all the rage of all the smallest beings.
One way to fall asleep is paradoxical intention: trying not to fall asleep.
So the thinking goes, this reduces your performance anxiety.
The question is, who are you fooling, if you really want to fall asleep?
As if sleep were a performance for God.
The instructions on a sleep mask say, you still need to close your eyes.
I wish the pink light of sunrise lasted longer, the warm pink of in-between.
One way to fall asleep is to say Don’t think over and over to yourself.
The instructions say, try to practice it mindlessly.
In sleep, sleep becomes an everlasting interlude, an eternal in-between.
I read that staring into space “can help”—but can’t remember what it helps with,
thinking or not thinking.
Not thinking is the closest we can get to stopping time.
All I know of time is in my mind; my mind is all I know.
Only fifteen minutes ago, I had no idea it was going to snow.
And yesterday, and yesterday, what did we believe?
It’s so easy to forget, as if it were a dream.
The future wasn’t obvious.
And the old snow on the mountains that never would melt—it didn’t look real.
– Ama Asantewa Diaka
He used “I love you”
for all the ways
he failed to love her
She used “I love you”
as an antidote
to pause the rot
Spring comes forward as a late-winter confection, and I cannot decide if it advances a philosophy of meekness or daring.
This year’s snowdrops: is it that they are spare, and have a slightly fraught lucidity, or are they proof that pain, too, can be ornate?
Even a propped skull is human nature. And its humor is monstrous, rich with an existence that owes nothing to anyone.
Fat little pearls against the ice, battering softly, try even fewer qualities—
To say that you love someone or something to death is to hover around the draw of irrevocability.
More faith is asked of us, a trained imagination against the ice-white.
Sunflowers in the MedianEverything is a union of one kind or another.
Foothills know this. Highways too.
In the median—wild sunflowers for miles.
Cheerful, unassuming. They are no one’s bouquet.
My dad and I try very hard to seem at ease
with each other. We comment on the bison
stampeding across the casino’s electric sign.
Pixilated, their clouded breath leads them
again and again over an imagined prairie.
Later I will make this drive every day,
memorize little landmarks: the row of cottonwoods,
the peaked shelter at the reservoir’s edge,
the water towers marking the reservation.
I will become so sick of the sagebrush,
the snow and the sun, an incessant blue sky,
that I’ll wilt to think of this place being home.
But today it’s a morning I’m not sorry to be awake for,
so that’s something. And no one mourns a coyote
with his russet head resting on the road’s shoulder.
Neither does the ditch fire elicit sympathy.
The sunflowers did not teach me this,
but their small faces look so cheerful
bouncing in the slipstream of traffic—
I will believe anything they say.