A paper wasp nest no longer hums,
and my loneliness does not need a home.
Wildflowers like music move through tall grasses;
tiny stars grow out of the dirt.
Mom carries toads from under stones while building a garden,
useful compassion. I can’t handle the weight
of their bodies twitching in my palm
but I love their tiny heartbeats.
I wish my trembling were a dance like the bees’
little sleepy legs landing from one powdery stamen to another.
To crawl into the privacy of honeycomb walls,
even the dried
honeyless piece fallen in the driveway organizes the rain.
This Is Somewhat about Failure
If I kept my hands folded in prayer, whatever the day contains
could be inside prayer.
Even the dead bee, a stranger’s unknown concern,
the murky dream, a tree’s severing. A cut feeling before it blooms.
If the world is a letter from God,
we are tasked with learning how to read.
I stare out the window in snow, my favorite form of beatitude.
Meanwhile the news:
“women being beaten by their own babies
in the hands of soldiers.”
Now the sky speaks uncertainly
about uncertainty. What future does this moment already hold?
Time is like origami shapes,
folds and creases into cranes, swans
that swim in cold circles, waiting.
My friend’s neighbor scrubs a wall a day, keeps the cleanest house. She says my studies are a luxury,
to sit around thinking all day.
Don’t forget about the blue-collar worker.
She knows words for hay in a language I don’t, what first-cut
and second-cut mean to the horses.
On her porch, after offering us everything in her fridge,
she tells family stories, the same stories told over and over,
same tire tracks in the snow leading to and from home.
The logo for the semi-trailers dad built, then managed, is blue.
At his retirement party, his colleagues said they’re sure
his blood runs blue even if cut when it should turn red.
He told a story of working on a Saturday when we were kids.
He put us in a dark trailer to look for “light leaks,”
and I found one, a tiny hole where light poured through
around a screw. It is a luxury to be loyal to light,
not to equate a rotting barn with one’s own hunger.
When my grandmother jumped a fence after being chased by a bull,
I imagine fear (was this when she was showing the neighbors
she could farm alone after her first husband killed himself
in the barn, or had my grandfather arrived?) but when the chasing bull
turned into a story, we laughed each time—
one of those stories that stitches through
what brings people together under the guise of fact.
An uncle asks me to pray for a pain that started long
before he can remember. (The farm is only one beginning.)
Prayer is the relationship between helplessness and love.
When I write there’s a catch in my throat,
trying to link the right empty word to its right heart
(an ancient forest before or after is another beginning).
To say: take my pulse; it is blue, too.
A blueprint in the blue snow.
Cause and Effect
wondering which tree the wind starts from
when its source is the far away ocean.
pain can become meanness,
turns to language that has to do with the pain,
not with what the words are about.
hush, hush, just let it burn like a sun. it will pass.
when the snow melts, orange peels and pine needles.
I am swayed by a lake I cannot see.
if the shadow of a lattice fence, if my braided hair
when I first learned, if slits of sunlight,
if a bee hums and I am not afraid,
if a person confuses “dusk” with “dawn,” the words, not the time,
what would have made this enough for you to come back?
I mean for you to forgive.
now words like snow falling,
not words as steps through fallen snow.
it’s okay to mistake them for ashes,
flown up from the tip of blue flame
after the roar.