Trees cannot walk, unlike
homo erectus now sapiens.
But our silva relations
are stars at standing still,
the sine qua non for
Simone Weil once wrote:
“attention is the rarest and purest
form of generosity,” so making of trees
exemplars – always giving
shade and sap
breath and beauty
warmth and wood.
Posing like a tree
demands more of me
than I first imagine:
balance, humility, serenity
and finally, roots in You.
A tongue of fire
rises from this candle
taller than two
flanking her. Their
tongues, their talk
lumine her. These three
enter me times two, then
become one in my mind’s eye.
I see my reflection in them:
flaming away I deplete each day
until I will be but one with You,
alight in Your eye – finally and fully
a human seen, as surely as
You have been a human being
aright in my eye.
I harvested Sister Bean Friday –
with the threat of frost Saturday.
She is mottled, purple on green.
Her seeds are shiny black with white eye.
Her smell is fecund.
Sister Bean speaks to as well as
feeds me saying
Let each breath be death and life.
Let each heartbeat unseat the thought that your blood is blue.
Let tears dilute your sweat and soften your glare.
I hold Sister Bean in my hand and
find that she weighs more than she does
because this bean preaches. I set her down
again, and then she calls to me at the last:
“You and I are not so very different.
We both begin and end in dirt.”
He lay splattered across my
wife’s emptied plate – now void
aside from this wasp’s corpse – flailed
by a fly-swatter repurposed:
wasp swapped for fly.
One wing conveniently
remains intact, shooting straight
up, like the arm of a child
anxious with an answer,
or a washroom request.
Of course, I grabbed the
dinnertime demon by the
sleeve and tossed him over
the guard rail into the
No words were said over
his body; no proper burial;
no notice on some wasp website;
no memorial for him aside
from this poem.
You’ve escaped me again,
like sand through my hand;
sweat from my pores;
sleep from my night.
I try to paint You,
but no portrayal will do. You
cannot be captured and every
image merely mirrors my wanting.
And yet yearning, too, is an attestation of your visitation…
I daydream of Your return, and
then you pinch me asleep. I dream
deeper into what is true: Your
slipping away is also Your drilling
deeper into me.
There is a bean to be seen
growing in the middle of our lawn,
there by grace of a chipmunk who squirreled
away a pod found in the ground of my garden;
my three sisters garden.
This bean would not be save for
the drought that stopped my lawn mowing,
without which it would have been a has bean.
I’m contemplating what kind of a bean pole
might serve as a lean-to for this lawn tall bean.
Maybe a stick that it can stick to while it rises
in our yard, or maybe a rod, stuck in the sod,
iron graced with the green of bean.
I’m watching this plant with bated breath
as Creator works wonders despite,
or rather because of,
Our fireplace is gas, a pane of glass
keeps me from reaching in and fiddling
with the fake flaming logs.
Piercing these logs are legs,
belonging to the coffee table,
between me and the fire.
The legs hold aloft another
sheet of glass, which slices me in half,
my reflection bifurcated
Each glass surface
reflects, refracts, and now
allows my eyes to see through –
if I sit just so.
God, too, is glass. Now I see
my face. Then I tilt my head and
I see grace, deeper than this surface,
which is, itself, sheer, evocative, apocalyptic.
George, Breonna, Trayvon, Ahmaud,
Chantel, Tina, Regis, Dudley…
these names all call to me
in the beat of my heart
sometimes with a rhythmic reminder that
I am alive and they are not
sometimes while racing in a fear
fashioned after theirs at their last
sometimes in a full stop – that
sliver of time between blood in, blood out…
And in that eternal between, those who are gone appear with You and
open my eyes to see again that all of our kneeling is not pious.
Here I sit, empty.
No poem comes to me.
Stirred, I go in search
of a verse to pluck.
But on what kind of tree does
a poem grow? Our garden
offers plenty of possibilities:
pine and oak,
beech and maple
spruce and hemlock.
Each one of these spirited trees is
ripe with grace and
rife with peace.
I settle, conversing with trees.
And even if no poem should arrive,
I’ll be succored by the sight of leaves aloft,
and trunks holding up the sky, my eye now
soaking in the chlorophyll filtered light,
inciting wonder, if not a poem.
I glanced out my May window,
and saw a pansy and her peers
in the snow with faces
cheery, appearing cherubic.
I praised these strong flowers and
asked them about their life with men.
They spoke of being trodden under foot, and
of hearing their name used and abused
to hurt, to maim, to wound others,
and so, their own way of being in the world.
I hung my head in shame.
Upon seeing this, these pansies
turned their heads to the sky, so that
I, too, might look up and perceive that
those closest to the earth have a worth
rooted in what those who trample
flowers will never know.