Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
Copyright © 2015 by Ross Gay. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.
Slanting light casts onto a stucco wall the shadows of upwardly zigzagging plum branches. I can see the thinning of branches to the very twig. I have to sift what you say, what she thinks, what he believes is genetic strength, what they agree is inevitable. I have to sift this quirky and lashing stillness of form to see myself, even as I see laid out on a table for Death an assortment of pomegranates and gourds. And what if Death eats a few pomegranate seeds? Does it insure a few years of pungent spring? I see one gourd, yellow from midsection to top and zucchini-green lower down, but already the big orange gourd is gnawed black. I have no idea why the one survives the killing nights. I have to sift what you said, what I felt, what you hoped, what I knew. I have to sift death as the stark light sifts the branches of the plum.
From The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998, published by Copper Canyon Press, 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Arthur Sze. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
A black-chinned hummingbird lands
on a metal wire and rests for five seconds;
for five seconds, a pianist lowers his head
and rests his hands on the keys;
a man bathes where irrigation water
forms a pool before it drains into the river;
a mechanic untwists a plug, and engine oil
drains into a bucket; for five seconds,
I smell peppermint through an open window,
recall where a wild leaf grazed your skin;
here touch comes before sight; holding you,
I recall, across a canal, the sounds of men
laying cuttlefish on ice at first light;
before first light, physical contact,
our hearts beating, patter of female rain
on the roof; as the hummingbird
whirrs out of sight, the gears of a clock
mesh at varying speeds; we hear
a series of ostinato notes and are not tied
to our bodies’ weight on earth.
Copyright © 2019 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.