Are you really? Underneath the snows of winter, do you blossom on and on? Do the pocket gophers crave you, tunneling beneath that blanket, pray to enter your secret chambers, rest inside your open gates?
I see your flowering, fruiting clusters, hanging on into October, leaning into the open path, making way, ushering whatever is holy into the presence of things that stay.
I often arrive at a boundary that leaves me at the gate at a time to fish or cut bait or just wait at the border of this or that for better or worse perform or rehearse begin again or end— on my mark to there, at the finish from where.
And that’s when I need some now-or-never word, as when Jesus sat with the woman at the well waiting for a snarl of men to stone her, and reach out to her writing something in the sand for her for them and wrote again, then spoke his boundary-breaking words piercing to the bone that would kill their will and let them all go home.
I was, no kidding, a visiting writer in a kindergarten recently, And the children asked me many wry and hilarious questions, Among them is that your real nose? and can you write a book About a ruffed grouse, please? But the one that pops back into My mind this morning was what do poems do? Answers: swirl Leaves along sidewalks suddenly when there is no wind. Open Recalcitrant jars of honey. Be huckleberries in earliest January, When berries are only a shivering idea on a bush. Be your dad For a moment again, tall and amused and smelling like Sunday. Be the awful wheeze of a kid with the flu. Remind you of what You didn’t ever forget but only mislaid or misfiled. Be badgers, Meteor showers, falcons, prayers, sneers, mayors, confessionals. They are built to slide into you sideways. You have poetry slots Where your gills used to be, when you lived inside your mother. If you hold a poem right you can go back there. Find the handle. Take a skitter of words and speak gently to them, and you’ll see.
Your encouraging words of description feel just right as I struggle to be heard, and work to remember and depict this long summer month, which approached like a soot-stained messenger fueling his miner’s light with pain and grief and fear. And yet what dynamite remains here for me, defiant in a laughing gas chamber, determined to retain a personal trainer, a shortened-life coach.