We were alone one night on a long road in Montana. This was in winter, a big night, far to the stars. We had hitched, my wife and I, and left our ride at a crossing to go on. Tired and cold—but brave—we trudged along. This, we said, was our life, watched over, allowed to go where we wanted. We said we’d come back some time when we got rich. We’d leave the others and find a night like this, whatever we had to give, and no matter how far, to be so happy again.
From The Way It Is by William Stafford. Copyright © 1982, 1998 by the Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.
How to get around it isn’t clear.
A thicket hedged across the road,
a high curve mass
Wind draws their tendrils tight.
How to get around them.
To the left, uphill,
to the right, the place
we used to be, where
tumbleweeds won’t tumble.
Earth and sky and thorny combs
that card them to each other.
You’re loose from your root,
hair caught in a knot at your nape.
Touch a tumbleweed, it springs back.
Tossed upon its thickest wisp,
a length of sisal twine
a fishnet glove
the air can wear.
How it blows
The wind that names
the tumbleweed, names its purpose,
calls it by the way it moves.
I didn’t know you had a cactus
now tattooed across your back.
I haven’t seen you naked in so long.
Copyright © 2016 Iris Cushing. Used with permission of the author.
We might have coupled
In the bed-ridden monopoly of a moment
Or broken flesh with one another
At the profane communion table
Where wine is spilled on promiscuous lips
We might have given birth to a butterfly
With the daily news
Printed in blood on its wings.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 5, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.