Why Sometimes I Wish We’d Speak with Our Eyes

Sometimes the silence is better,
when all the things I want to say
are still butterflies jostling, or petals

unfolding or currents tumbling all
glass-tongued and white-laced and wet.
Because sometimes when I speak

the gift would be better unopened,
would be better the way I imagined it,
or better the way I would do it if I could

just do it again. Make my words more
like wings, more like delphiniums, more
like waves—has there ever been a butterfly

I thought could fly better? Or a current
I criticized because it didn’t swirl just
the right way? But my words, these

unruly syllabic thrusts, these blunt
and defiant lead-rooted stumps. I try
to shape them to drape the moment

like silks. But they tear. They rip.
I stutter. My throat goes dry. The
moment, horrified, wilts. I am sorry.

Even these words don’t touch what
I wish I could say—please believe me,
inside the cocoon, inside the bud,

behind the dam they were so beautiful.

249–The Hum of It

it wasn’t such a great day
the grief coming again
grandmother in her fullmooness
overwhelmed my desire to be
good and so again my tears fell
making me wish i were somewhere
else so i drove alone to the
library and tired to remember
what  i miss
1. leisurely chatter with a few great friends
2. music in all forms, loud singing and great CD’s always playing
3. teaching something, i learn so much that way
4. solitude, alone where i can see and hear no other human
since i’m not a victim i’ll be
working on recreating these
missed numbers that are not
the sum of my life but the hum of it

No Pride in the Act

The heaviest of burdens is simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
—Milan Kundera

Before the kitchen table, before the burner’s flame,
before the wooden cutting board is the garden.
And it is here the earth and sky convene

to produce sprout and leaf, thick flesh, sweet seeds—
the miracles we eat. I say miracle because
there is so much complexity in the story. We plant

a seedling, water it, weed around it, get on our knees
and pray with our hands in the dirt. And sometimes
we’re graced with tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peas.

And sometimes it’s terrible work. Today I spent hours
tapping squash beetles from hollow green stems
into a tin of warm soapy water. When that was too tedious,

I took to pinching them till they squished. It was
gruesome, the spurt as their bodies popped. I wore
gloves to make myself less squeamish. Dozens?

Hundreds? How many small bluish gray bugs did I kill
with my hands in the tangle of stalks? There was no thrill in it, no
elation, no malice. I did not smile, not once. But I was sure

that they must go so I could harvest my squash.
And their eggs on the undersides of the leaves, oh!
Tiny amber drops that glistened like gems in the sun.

I could not help but marvel at them as I ripped them off, every one.
It was a burden today that brought me so close
to the earth. It was real, the garden, the repulsive work.

We do what we must: kneel in astonishment at the horrible
wonderful, bountiful, edible, ghastly, beautiful, honest world.

Because Even at a Rate of 10 Ways Per Minute …

There are more or less 100 billion galaxies.
This is a fact. Each one contains
something like 100 billion stars.

And that, that number is something
I cannot reckon, can hardly understand.
Even the dozens of zucchinis in my garden

threaten to overwhelm my sense
of abundance. But I estimate 100 billion
ways I love you. You think I exaggerate.

If I do, my love, you will never know.
Sit back with a tall glass of water
and listen as I enumerate. One …