Sun makes the day new.
Tiny green plants emerge from earth.
Birds are singing the sky into place.
There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us.
We gallop into a warm, southern wind.
I link my legs to yours and we ride together,
Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives.
Where have you been? they ask.
And what has taken you so long?
That night after eating, singing, and dancing
We lay together under the stars.
We know ourselves to be part of mystery.
It is unspeakable.
It is everlasting.
It is for keeps.
MARCH 4, 2013, CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS
Reprinted from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 2015 by Joy Harjo. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Orchids are sprouting from the floorboards. Orchids are gushing out from the faucets. The cat mews orchids from his mouth. His whiskers are also orchids. The grass is sprouting orchids. It is becoming mostly orchids. The trees are filled with orchids. The tire swing is twirling with orchids. The sunlight on the wet cement is a white orchid. The car’s tires leave a trail of orchids. A bouquet of orchids lifts from its tailpipe. Teenagers are texting each other pictures of orchids on their phones, which are also orchids. Old men in orchid penny loafers furiously trade orchids. Mothers fill bottles with warm orchids to feed their infants, who are orchids themselves. Their coos are a kind of orchid. The clouds are all orchids. They are raining orchids. The walls are all orchids, the teapot is an orchid, the blank easel is an orchid, and this cold is an orchid. Oh, Lydia, we miss you terribly.
Copyright © 2017 by Kaveh Akbar. From Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017). Used with permission of the author.
A man can’t die where there is no earth because there will be no place to bury him. His body is the sky and understands the language of birds. His body says the earth is made of everything that has fallen from Heaven while no one was looking. He promises to defy gravity and then return home. A man can’t reach for the sky and not feel he is falling. It goes on forever and the birds talk about the awesomeness of flight while the oxen labor in the fields, while the cows eat grass and dream of slaughter. A man can’t talk about flight because one day, there will be no sky, just the body covered in earth. And now the sky is empty of birds. And now the earth is covered in flowers.
Copyright © 2017 by W. Todd Kaneko. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
To allow silence To admit it in us always moving Just past senses, the darkness What swallows us and we live amongst What lives amongst us * These grim anchors That brief sanctity the sea Cast quite far when you seek —in your hats black and kerchiefs— to bury me * Do not weep but once, and a long time then Thereafter eat till your stomach spills over No more! you'll cry too full for your eyes to leak * The words will wait * Place me in a plain pine box I have been for years building It is splinters not silver It is filled of hair * Even the tongues of bells shall still * You who will bear my body along Spirit me into the six Do not startle at its lack of weight How light
Copyright © 2011 by Kevin Young. Reprinted from Dear Darkness with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
From The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1923, 1947, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1942, 1951 by Robert Frost, copyright © 1970, 1975 by Lesley Frost Ballantine. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
This is what was bequeathed us: This earth the beloved left And, leaving, Left to us. No other world But this one: Willows and the river And the factory With its black smokestacks. No other shore, only this bank On which the living gather. No meaning but what we find here. No purpose but what we make. That, and the beloved’s clear instructions: Turn me into song; sing me awake.
From How Beautiful the Beloved by Gregory Orr. Copyright © 2009 by Gregory Orr. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.
It went on.
You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.
At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent—what could you say?
Now it is almost over.
Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.
It does this not in forgiveness—
between you, there is nothing to forgive—
but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment
he sees the bread is finished with transformation.
Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.
It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
or your days: they will be wrong,
they will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man,
all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.
Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad,
you slept, you awakened.
Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.
Originally published in After (HarperCollins, 2006); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted with the permission of the author.