The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

From A New Selected Poems by Galway Kinnell, published by Houghton Mifflin; copyright © 2000 by Galway Kinnell. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

The Great Matriarch says: There is a dog who barks at his own shadow, which is not there, for in mid-day sun, there is no shadow.

Notice, if I give him a dumpling or a chew-toy, he stops barking, but he does not stop when he sees his shadowless shadow. He barks with warning, with alarm.

He barks louder and louder, snapping his jaws, swallowing sputum, on his haunches, ready to pounce.

He is afraid of what is not there. Like you, Mei Ling, when you wake up, gasping for breath, thinking you might die, that ICE agents will come with a choke-chain.

Poor dear, he wants to protect us from the unseen, the unexpected, the unknowable. This is very bad luck in the neighborhood, to constantly hear the harbinger of doom.

Should we, then, euthanize him, put him out of his misery? To prophesy destruction is to invite bad omens, to stare into the abyss.

Or should we calm him, caress him, give him shelter?

Let’s call him by his birth name and take away his power. Let’s shout, “Hashtag, No Collusion, Gunboat, Death Star, Apocalypse, Mara, Cerberus, Beelzebub!”

Let’s call him, “The one who understands vacuity.”

Let’s not fear him, but love him, offer the pink leash, for he is your dog and he is mine.

Copyright © Marilyn Chin. Used with permission of the author.

I put your leaves aside,
One by one:
The stiff, broad outer leaves;
The smaller ones,
Pleasant to touch, veined with purple;
The glazed inner leaves.
One by one
I parted you from your leaves,
Until you stood up like a white flower
Swaying slightly in the evening wind.

White flower,
Flower of wax, of jade, of unstreaked agate;
Flower with surfaces of ice,
With shadows faintly crimson.
Where in all the garden is there such a flower?
The stars crowd through the lilac leaves
To look at you.
The low moon brightens you with silver.

The bud is more than the calyx.
There is nothing to equal a white bud,
Of no colour, and of all,
Burnished by moonlight,
Thrust upon by a softly-swinging wind.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 11, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

My neighbor keeps a box of baby pigs
all winter in her kitchen. They are

motherless, always sleeping, sleepy
creatures of blood & fog, a vapor

of them wraps my house
in gauze, and the windows mist up

with their warm breath, their moist snores. They
watch her peel potatoes, boil

water from the floor, wearing
a steamy gown. She must be like

Demeter to them, but, like this weather
to me, this box of pigs

is the cause of all my suffering. They smell
of invalids, lotioned. Death is over there. When I

look toward my neighbor’s house, I see
trouble looking back

at me. Horrible life! Horrible town! I start
to dream their dreams. I dream

my muzzle’s pressed
desperately into the whiskered

belly of my dead mother. No
milk there. I dream

I slumber in a cardboard box
in a human kitchen, wishing, while

a woman I don’t love
mushes corn for me in a dish. In

every kitchen in the Midwest
there are goddesses & pigs, the sacred

contagion of pity, of giving, of loss. You can’t
escape the soft

bellies of your neighbors’ calm, the fuzzy
lullabies that drift

in cloudy piglets across their lawns. I dream
my neighbor cuts

one of them open, and stars fall out, and roll
across the floor. It frightens me. I pray

to God to give me
the ability to write

better poems than the poems of those
whom I despise. But

before spring comes, my neighbor’s
pigs die in her kitchen

one by one, and I
catch a glimpse of my own face

in the empty collection plate, looking
up at me, hungrily, one

Sunday—pink, and smudged—and ask it
Isn’t that enough?

From Where Now. Copyright © 2017 by Laura Kasischke. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyon.org.