A gift is a risk. Let roses be the prodrome.
It’s like it dropped a gold and a silver
ring with its name on it
in my brain. That was the gift
before the storm. It sent you a stumbling
block. Just scribble yes or no
on the form. Now every time the doorbell
rings I think someone’s sent me one.
A gift is a guess. Did it come close?
It’s what you need most
that turns you nerve side out. Right
now I think I’m growing something
long thought and kind of
clumsy. Just wrap it in drafts with awk
in the margins. Stuff it
in a wooden pillow with a drawer.
A gift is a task. It could be oxblood
or puce. You have to decide
whether to send those flowers that drop
whole from the stem or
the ones whose petals fall one
by one. You know how rain will
turn the roses nerve side out?
A gift is a test. They need to know that.
When she wrote their thorns
are the best part of them I can’t begin
to tell you how many kinds of
right she was. Now I think I’m growing
something long thought
to be the prerogative of certain
entitled individuals. Wings
or thorns. When all I wanted was
a more subtle pulse
at the throat bone. Well what size
do you wear? I am smelting you a surprise.
Not another luminous lyre
cum lint remover. Take it
from me. If you depend on gifts
for what you need you’ll end up with
a gold and a silver shoe both
for the same lame foot.
Copyright © 2015 by Alice Fulton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
My father’s hopes travel with me
years after he died. Someday
we will learn how to live. All of us
surviving without violence
never stop dreaming how to cure it.
What changes? Crossing a small street
in Doha Souk, nut shops shuttered,
a handkerchief lies crumpled in the street,
maroon and white, like one my father had,
from Jordan. Perfectly placed
in his pocket under his smile, for years.
He would have given it to anyone.
How do we continue all these days?
Copyright © 2015 Naomi Shihab Nye. Used by permission of the author.
In this field of thistle, I am the improbable
lady. How I wear the word: sequined weight
snagging my saunter into overgrown grass, blonde
split-end blades. I waltz in an acre of bad wigs.
Sir who is no one, sir who is yet to come, I need you
to undo this zipped back, trace the chiffon
body I’ve borrowed. See how I switch my hips
for you, dry grass cracking under my pretend
high heels? Call me and I’m at your side,
one wildflower behind my ear. Ask me
and I’ll slip out of this softness, the dress
a black cloud at my feet. I could be the boy
wearing nothing, a negligee of gnats.
From Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Saeed Jones. Used with permission of The Permissions Company on behalf of Coffee House Press.