Forever that bird landed in front of me
this morning, 11am, Sunday, August 2;
forever I lie in front of him, a woman
on a couch on a porch outside
her mother’s room, one year, one summer
after her death; forever I look in the room
at my desk handpainted with matching chair,
gifts from my grandmother I think will be left
behind, I think will be used for a last time.
But nothing is lost, this moment is forever,
as all of time has brought me to this bird,
this bird to me, this morning, the summer
after death, a gift in childhood, has been prepared
for by everything that came before it,
and everything from now on leads out of this moment,
carries it along, looking backward without
a backward look, from now the bird held inside
no seasons all directions on.
We do not speak of geography,
so shortcuts cannot affect our way.
I cannot even permit your saying “No shortcuts,”
because the blackbird must sing three notes
before it sings a fourth,
because there are (movements
to be passed through)
because the bubbles that rise to the pond’s surface
must work their way through the lily roots,
and each concentric circle touch the shore.
This is not geography,
because we cannot foretell
where we are going,
seeing as how we are carried,
and know only where we have come,
recognized if we are lucky
by where we were last.
The rose leaf has no destination
when it drops through the trellis
and could not land on the bench
without drifting by the hedge
and does not after all stay
anywhere. A breeze lifts it
beside the cat who comes round the corner
of the hedge to find the lizard,
a surprise impossible to fall upon
by crawling through the hedge
with any idea of shortcut.
I find myself
in a garden of no geography,
and could not have come another way
when I did not even know
this as a place where we would arrive.
I had learned an art
of flower arrangements,
how to make clusters
inside cereal bowls,
or to venture the boldness
of one sunflower stalk
in a mound of rocks.
This art did not translate
die in a day,
ruin any art
that requires composition.
Better in Italy
a ceramic vase,
local, green glaze,
one handle chipped.
These flowers die overnight.
And their death is a happiness,
found each morning,
a waking that begins
with throwing the entire collection
and its squalid water from the window.
This art does not produce delicacy,
except the spray of yellow and white
powder across the kitchen floor.
Barefoot, in a t-shirt
I start the day
before the heat.
This is not a ceremony, yet still
formal: to gather
what has come in the night
when new wildness appears,
to collect quickly
as it dies
when I am fresh
and the day is fresh
before the sun
closes the flowers
and drives me inside.