There is an understanding,
a smiling understanding,
between orchards and orchestras.
Jazz and Bach are fertilizers,
something extra. Trees are much older than music
and poetry. They have bodies and souls,
godlike identities. Trees are choirs,
basso profundos, coloraturas, mezzo sopranos.
I live with music and trees, orchards of music,
woodwinds and sextets. I sing
the "I don't lie to myself" blues.
I learn from my suffering to understand
the suffering of others. I climb musical scales.
Trees have an embouchure. I'm a sapling.
Breath and wind blow through me.
This winter is a coda of falling leaves,
sequoias and maples Louis Armstrong.
I have a band of tree brothers and sisters,
we are not melancholy babies.
I age like a rock, not a rocking chair.
A rock does not wear spectacles, hearing aids,
or use a walking stick. It is dangerous
for anyone to call me "young fellow."
I will make you understand, I, being who I am will
make you understand who I am, on a Sunday,
in the rain, when the ice is melting on the stoop,
beside the white water lily, having been made
to understand that I will make you understand,
making you this, the one who understands, having
understood, standing by it, in the rain, understanding
where I stand I stand near you, the stoop, in the rain,
by the lily, who I am, making sense, understandable,
and smart, and also lovely, that you understand
that it is this, lovely, the truth, in understanding,
having said it, having been understood, like the
rest of the universe, stoop-like, egyptian, with a
lake of fire and the lilies and the train, beautiful,
happy, gleeful, joyed, and understood, this, I am,
who am to you who understands.
Out of the sump rise the marigolds. From the rim of the marsh, muslin with mosquitoes, rises the egret, in his cloud-cloth. Through the soft rain, like mist, and mica, the withered acres of moss begin again.
When I have to die, I would like to die on a day of rain– long rain, slow rain, the kind you think will never end.
And I would like to have whatever little ceremony there might be take place while the rain is shoveled and shoveled out of the sky,
and anyone who comes must travel, slowly and with thought, as around the edges of the great swamp.
I was the wild-haired girl by the side of the road,
thumb out, steering a jittery course
between terror and boredom.
Hours later, if you cared to look,
you'd find me rattling around
in the back of a truck,
carried headlong into the next thing.
It was just my luck
to have been born when I was,
on the cusp of a chaotic abundance,
and, as my sister said,
I was the fastest sperm,
or maybe just the most persistent.
What luck I've had since then,
to sleep in the wet spot,
to bruise easily, to laugh till I fart.
What luck that my heart splintered
into ten million silver needles
each one on fire to embroider
love-stained and prisoner of the self
on red satin pillows.
Lucky to live a lifetime
in the years between losses,
to lie awake at night, wide-eyed
with the doleful sirens and the restless mice;
to sweat a misspent word, to rue the past,
to have a past to rue.
Luckiest of all: to have yearned mightily,
and learned a little,
to have lived inside desire
like Jonah in the whale,
perpetually greedy and hopeful,
making a lifetime out of each mouthful.
And then to find you! Luck
at the eleventh hour;
undeserved, red-faced, panting,
and overworked guardian angel,
from all we can't see, a note
telling us that love is real
was here all along,
a forgotten blue-and-green marble in our back pocket,
an exact replica of the living world.
She's shuffling around the lake in flip flops
pregnant belly hanging out
over the open strings of her sweat-pants
shouting into her cell phone:
"You just don't get it!"
Indigo twilight streaked with horsetail clouds.
I'm dogging her discreetly, wondering
what don't they get? Everything, probably.
What it's like to be lugging her particular load,
wanted or not, into the uncertain future
while above us the sky is doing its big art installation thing,
sunset's last flush lighting up the West
like those pink neon thighs outlined in shaky fluorescent
on the sign swinging outside a saloon: enter here
for the time of your life.
We're citizens of a broken city, yes
in a dying time, yes,
amid the general din;
improbable that we'll be saved,
still we keep hoping,
which is to say shuffling, limping, or whizzing along---
kids on skateboards and bikes,
the lady with the pink hula hoop
swinging her hips in wide joyous circles,
Chinese elders practicing T'ai Chi under a spreading oak,
all of us putting one
semi-discouraged foot in front of the other
while above us the absolute indifferent magnificence
from a certain perspective even our ignorance is dazzling.