Stalwart and sturdy, the tree’s trunk
is luminous in the late light,
standing before and against dark.
Its roots are burrowed deep into
the valley between the green hills
and dry, hidden, invisible.
The leaves cluster tightly, cling close
together, wondrous and wary.
The dry and the dark creep close, but
the leaves are not ready to fall.
Even broken, even shredded,
wounds can be woven into one,
something new, a form to be found.
This is the shape that suffering
takes and makes and shows
as it heals.
So many. So many. We are
not alone. We are together.
We are a forest in autumn,
full of ripe fruit, bright fruit, bright words
to carve the light, the light that carves
us. We are sharp, crisp with edges,
with wounds. We are soft, moist and warm
as if coming out of ovens,
out of caverns, weak with hunger,
fading, yes, but first, branches blaze.
Scrape the leftovers into a pan on the stove,
whatever was chilled in the fridge, crammed in cupboards,
canned or covered, not quite fresh but only newly
expired. Things others would throw away, broken tools,
laws, a person telling the right story at just
the wrong time. Call this truth. A bit of fajitas
with peppers and onion from the birthday party
two weeks back, a can of too spicy tomatoes,
the last can of sweet corn, yesterday’s rice still there
(forgotten in a pan on the stove overnight,
but only barely starting to turn sweet). This works.
Cook it all again, hot, really hot, and simmer
long enough to kill off the early signs of rot.
I was raised to save what’s still useful, and so, here,
we are not throwing anything out, not tonight.
When life is too black to play the hap-hap-happy
jester, it’s tilt-your-fedora time. Where’s Hyde Park,
where’s “la Rue Mouffetard”? Time to lounge under lamplight
or a fan, at least, in this solemn sweatbox town,
sin city, hidden city, dark city. What kind
of city is it? The kind where “They say it’s your
birthday” gets bellowed out on Facebook, and Facebook
denizens bellow back (not at all concerned with
the shadow behind the curtain, the sooty shoes
poking out from under the bed). It’s never time,
never the right time. The beat bumps, heart pumps. Beatles
scream, “We’re gonna have a good time!” but the screaming
isn’t at all convincing. There’s a sweetheart there,
somewhere, whispering, “Well, Happy Birthday to you.”
Posted in Sonnets