How many kids came to school
back then, our little town, our little school,
scalded, their arms, legs. They'd been
running, they said, by a boiling pot
in the kitchen, climbed up a chair,
to watch bubbled, peer through steam.
Pot overturned, howls, the lesson
of fire unknown, Prometheus stopping,
they thought, only by rich people's houses.
Children pulled up shirts, down skirts, to show
scars, or blinked, how they were near blinded in one eye,
innocent skins cross hatched, raked. How they loved to tell,
we to listen, the violence of farm, forests,
the cow who hated being milked, kicked back,
pail flying, its sharp tin edge bloodying, three
legged stool landing foot first, splintering
the tops of their heads, "Doctor? Naw, daddy
patched me, lard, binder tape,"
horses, hundreds of hands high, rearing
against hooves being black-smithed,
"How'd you like a nail drove in yore foot?"
charging bulls, needle sharp horns, barbed wire, snakes,
buzzards, combines, machines seemingly invented to mangle the young,
show who was boss, angry fathers, drunk older brothers, mean,
straight-haired sisters waving sizzling curling irons.
What we will have when they come
Deviled eggs? Everybody likes deviled eggs,
I know a woman flutes the yolks
into the whites, crowns them
with an English pea. Bacon, bacon?
They're not coming for breakfast.
Doesn't matter, back, the world's
greatest food, think, all it goes with,
potato salad, BLT, filet mignon?
Give them turkey? Everybody loves, gives
thanks. Cheese and crackers?
What? In a box? Velveeta?
"What is your regional cheese?"
the French woman asks at the super
market, "Velveeta," the produce boy says.
Cheese is pure fat, crackers, deep fried paper.
How long are they staying? When
are they coming?
We have to give them something.
We'll take them out.
Bumble bee asleep in the morning glory
Who ever dreamed blue this blue?
Not the musical ache, the raised seventh,
sky, sky, as if nothing else but sky,
here, around us, up, down, a love letter sealed,
held back. Black (bee) and blue (flower),
but no bruise, no hurt, stinger in scabbard, buzz on mute,
Georgia O'Keefe somewhere else, sleep
never enough, here enough, trumpet still,
mouth gold, mouth that calling in silence.
Air said these couldn't fly, bumble bees; they flew,
found here, found now - the don't-blink, don't-miss-it,
here-and-now. Now - drew the blinds, pulled the shades,
closed their hexagonal, head-sized eyes
to the dazzle of the flaming fall, all
the other colors - red, bronze, orange -
that warn and cry cold through fire,
singeing the border, summer drying as it has to
to prove it ever existed, the heavy
petal of decline, regret, light falling too soon,
masque scheduled too late, the round throat
erasing all corners - dreaded purpose -
territory, sex, survival, species - here veiled,
something else driving the world this morning.
The world is the world, nothing
more, nothing less, everything is
in it, the house, snow, trees, a church,
tiny figures, something real, something
red, a ribbon, a wreath, a bird?
What to make the snow from?
wondered the first creators, almost gods: rice
thought the Chines who make everything,
and everything from rice, white, fluffy,
but rice darkened with time; even at weddings, rice
clogs, bird throats, rain drains, rice didn't dance beneath
the glass or flutter down form the sky like swan's down.
Bits of bodies? That many dead?
There was enough. But bone doesn't float,
Bone has to be bleached, found, ground.
Bone is not snow, snow is not bone.
Why dig for what should rain from above?
Plastic, finally, plastic, of all things
plastic is everything, and everything
is plastic. Soft, hard, delicate, solid,
Light, white, any color, heavy,
plastic would've been what
God made us out of if He's had more
time than the week, and been interested
in mass production, money, plastic,
rainbow colored, unbreakable, cheap,
So here snow descends when the globe is
lifted, gently shaken, snow, the world in winter,
home, love, peace, all the things dreams are
made of, how small, how little we need.
the children falling into the snow, flapping
angel wings, a dog - his barking almost
plastic, frozen sound. The wreath. The ribbon.
The red speck a bird surely, not just a little color?
the reason the world is round, the reason time is a clock.
YOUR ONLY SHINY THING
THE LIZARD IN THE WASHING MACHINES
MORE LIGHT THAN WE CAN HOLD