This is hard to say: I'm not sure
of you. Every night another storm
scatters our nest; in the aftersilence
I practice words that would make us right,
but in the morning they scurry and flit
like little mice, gone. What hawk's shadow
am I afraid of? That our struggle
will abrade the husk that once cracked allows
something green to sprout?
Or that one of us will flit and scurry, gone?
Carve away the confusion about what little
we've made and may make, cut out every
what might have been, what might become, write
them into another poem named (hunger)
or (parent). What does that leave?
I'm not sure. When will I confess
what I'm not sure of is me?
This nest is a straggle of shreds
and promises. This nest is now.
Come sit beside me in the moment.
They are barefoot and smile
no cat's prey welcome, no sharp
canines; they clad the gold
of their perfection in flannel, denim;
they defer to small and gray
with no awareness
of their deference. They are so high
that low is an abstraction;
they give and have no name
for giving. How to remain jealous
of such? How to retain
the urge to gnaw their hem?
When I bleed they heal, but when
the trap that twists
and eats me is a ragged blade
of days and years and no escape only
endure, then they see from a cloud,
confused. They bend to touch
this thing they thought was them,
and then they cry.
The simplest things conceal the greatest
mysteries. First, this oak: three hundred years
hunkered on the mist-grazed ridge. Dew-
jeweled whiskers grayer than mine.
Ten feet up, rooted in the broad embrace
of its branching, an orange flame blooms,
wild azalea; its own entanglement, a mouse's nest.
Next, home: you spread a damp cloth
across the wide crock and a musk
of blessing expands to fill the kitchen,
tiny lives expanding in the dough.
And one more miracle: tomorrow the warm loaf
you carry to the altar becomes
forgiveness. I chew mercy. I swallow.
Tiny lives; the great and ancient life;
my soul small, whiskered, gray become
acceptable. Now this prayer: invited I invite.
Come into me all you lives, expand
my heart, become in me an oak, a warm kitchen.
The simplest things reveal the greatest.