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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Bud-break

John Rusk, "Trillium chloropetalum," 2014

Darkness is almost absolute in the understory.
Here, where I don’t cast a shadow, where the
Catherine wheel of needled branches breaks
the winter sunlight on its way down, bleeds it
of warmth til it’s frayed and pale as mycelium.
Near where summer’s wildfires stained our lips
with tarry soot, made it impossible to speak.

But this is how we’re born, from this darkness.
Juncos tell me seeds have burst their jackets so
they must fly towards higher ground, the rising
wind lifting them like samaras above the earth,
away, away—and here, love, the understory’s
long night is now starred with white trillium, a
scent that pitches me headlong into bud-break.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Geodesy

"As Earth spins, its shape is slightly flattened into an ellipsoid, so that there is a greater distance between the centre of Earth and the surface at the equator, than the centre of Earth and the surface at the poles. This bigger distance, coupled with the rotation of Earth, results in the force of gravity being weaker at the equator than at the poles."

The shape of the world: pushed down
by its spin, “a flattened ellipsoid.” As if
a potter’s wet hands, while centering clay
on the wheel, let the rotation take over,
as if they stepped away to get a fresh cup
of tea, as if the spinning clay gathered a
wisp of the earth’s magnetic field to itself—
a cloud condensing, a blanket against the
solar wind—and made an atmosphere.
As if the potter returned as a goddess, a
geologist or mathematician, the maker re-
making, remade by the shape of the world.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Eschatology

Takeuchi Seihō, Spring Snow (Shunsetsu), 1942

The crow with a broken primary feather limping
up the drive, angling for a cheese cracker. Or the
neighbor’s fat chickens, bringing death to grubs.
A week ago, two puddles of thickening blood on
the porch; later, while weeding, I saw a sack, no,
the pink hairless remains of a rat, under lavender.
I’m tangled up in other people’s stories about the
end of things. They’re frayed, threadbare stories,
having no crow, no chickens, no grubs, no rat, yet
they nettle me. Lilliputian thread, cobwebs from a
dead god’s crypt; I shudder as they brush my face.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ribes

"Artemis of Ephesus." Statue from the Amphitheater
of Lepcis Magna, photograph by Marco Prins.

In early spring, the white flowering currant. Artemis Ephesia,
egg-breasted Lady pale as the moon, as the marble under
your lost paint, when bud-break came, did your followers
sit at your feet, drowsy as bees in torpor? I lean close, bend
towards the pendant blossoms. Couldn’t be indecorum in this
wet land, it’s the same sweet scent as blood-red sanguineum.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Blur

(OvO), "The trees have eyes and they've
gathered to watch our fleeting lives
," 2013

My gaze, beloved, doesn’t hold fast any longer. It
flickers like a hummingbird’s tongue, nystagmus
kissing the snowdrops as I bend to look close, so
close extra gravity tugs at me, softens the ground
underfoot. I catch myself, widen my stance but it’s
too late, I’m set down in mulch and mud, breathing
in what the wood chips exhale—lignin, resin, vanillin,
my nose in the book of shredded trees. It’s a blur,
this life, rising on the wind, falling at moonset, and
I still look to touch it mid-flight, to steady my gaze.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Recipe

Daniel Beilinson, "Khimki Forest," 2011

We’d starve if we couldn’t stomach the
bitterness. Even after a soak, that cold
stream hadn’t washed out enough from
acorn and oak to unbind the tongue, but
we must eat. (Our hard-times bread not
much more than a mush, but oh how we
lapped up its flint edge.) Flux may kill us?
Then we’ll take our water pink with wine.
(The recipe calls for more than Kore’s six
seeds to ferment a blood red prairie Lethe.
Husks added for a tannic brace, a taste of
exile.) We’d die if we fed ourselves with
all we thought we knew, who we thought
we were, those sweet easy times before—
and we’ll die if we ever, finally, forget them.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Profligate geometries

zeevveez, "Gnat Balls (2)," 2013

Every day, about an hour before sunset,
a cloud of small insects floats, Brownian
and swirling, near the apex of an invisible
pyramid (the base, a complex alignment
of dahlias, catmint, three red flowering
currants; the edges, outlined by shadows
cast from a small ash tree). They’ll dance,
then disperse. Their beautiful anonymity
is my conceit (I’m not meant to listen to
their olfactory small talk), their spiraling
without touching an artifact of my line of
sight (I’m certain they’ll touch, why else
dance?)—profligate geometries, purpose
unknown, life-giving, nourishing delight.