—after Michael Heizer
I may be looking at the set of boulders
that is now in front of me, but it is you I am addressing.
You are near or you are far,
depending on the accuracy of the words I have chosen.
When my teacher told me to use this
instead of the, she was talking about the range between
the intimate and the conventional. The gray cluster
is radiant, but it is a melancholy radiance.
To describe it only seems to lean away
from what I intend. Maybe, then, touch is a better way
of explaining the pleasure of that
encounter: the surprise and familiarity of the plant
that you brush past in the dark of your
own house. Or maybe the always-new logic of a dream
is closer to the truth: the falling that takes place
in a place where there is no ground.
The boulders are there for me, an arrangement
and its warren of rooms. One door opening to foggy roses.
Another one opening to a dawn that is the color of tea.
Surely there will always be new language
to tell you who I am, imagination rousing
out of idleness into urgency, reaching now towards you.
I keep remembering my teacher and she is an image
of joy, the small and wordless music
of her silver bangles. This over the.
One of the rules for writing the poems of a lonely person.
Copyright © 2019 by Rick Barot. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
If you often find yourself at a loss for words
or don’t know what to say to those you love,
just extract poetry out of poverty, this dystopia
of civilization rendered fragrant,
blossoming onto star-blue fields of loosestrife,
heady spools of spike lavender, of edible clover
beckoning to say without bruising
a jot of dog’s tooth violet, a nib of larkspur notes,
or the day’s perfumed reports of indigo
in the gloaming—
what to say to those
whom you love in this world?
Use floriography, or as the flower-sellers put it,
Say it with flowers.
—Indigo, larkspur, star-blue, my dear.
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade.
The article called it “a spectacle.” More like a garden than a nursery:
hundreds of purple octopuses protecting clusters of eggs
while clinging to lava rocks off the Costa Rican coast.
I study the watery images: thousands of lavender tentacles
wrapped around their broods. Did you know there’s a female octopus
on record as guarding her clutch for 53 months? That’s four-and-a-half years
of sitting, waiting, dreaming of the day her babies hatch and float away.
I want to tell my son this. He sits on the couch next to me clutching his phone,
setting up a hangout with friends. The teenage shell is hard to crack.
Today, my heart sits with the brooding octomoms: not eating, always on call,
always defensive, living in stasis in waters too warm to sustain them.
No guarantees they will live beyond the hatching. Not a spectacle
but a miracle any of us survive.
Copyright © 2019 by January Gill O’Neil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.