It’s easy to think nature is subdued in cities and towns. But turn your head for just a moment and the pavement is cracked and the cracks are full of weeds. Walk through any neighborhood a time or two and you begin to see wood fences rotting, metal ones rusting, house siding softening, paint peeling, and rooftops covered with fir needles and moss — at least such is the case here in the Pacific Northwest. Moles, gophers, raccoons — burrowers, leapers, flitters — hornets, bees, hawks, owls — children — all work their miracles on the landscape. The sky weeps, the mountains move and sometimes even explode, burying everything in ash. Rivers and streams overflow, their banks give way, and houses slide in. Often, a few hours is enough to have your life rearranged, all by natural forces. No wonder we love each other.
The Time of Year
The time of year when dust and pollen settle on the books.
Grass seed fields. Cottonwood fluff.
Old men and women, barefoot dolls wearing rice hats.
Scratching with their hoes, reeds through which sweet music flows.
Their hearts like temple bells.
And then you come upon a ground-nest with its broken shells.
Pale blue. Each a child inside of you.
The neighbors look up and smile as you wobble by on your bicycle.
Little do they know you are stitching them a quilt.
That when it’s done, they will be old too.
Just as they are now.
Your grief is that anyone in the world at all.
Might still not understand that they are the river and the soil.
That the rice they steam and serve is themselves.
A grief so light it makes you laugh.
As the one beside you writes your epitaph.
Of nameless wind and scattered ash.
And still they hoe. For love is what they grow.
Recently Banned Literature, June 5, 2017