High Dangerous

is what my sons call the flowers—
purple, white, electric blue—
 
pom-pomming bushes all along
the beach town streets.
 
I can’t correct them into
hydrangeas, or I won’t.
 
Bees ricochet in and out
of the clustered petals,
 
and my sons panic and dash
and I tell them about good
 
insects, pollination, but the truth is
I want their fear-box full of bees.
 
This morning the radio
said tender age shelters.
 
This morning the glaciers
are retreating. How long now
 
until the space-print backpack
becomes district-policy clear?
 
We’re almost to the beach,
and High dangerous! my sons
 
yell again, their joy in having
spotted something beautiful,
 
and called it what it is.

More by Catherine Pierce

Planet

This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet glows with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed
 
dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
soft if I choose, hard if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so
 
I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air, and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed
 
to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.
 
Last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its sixty-seven moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon
 
called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly
 
crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones
 
and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.

Related Poems

Speaking Tree

I had a beautiful dream I was dancing with a tree.

                                                                   —Sandra Cisneros

Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken—
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there—

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—

Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music—
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft—

Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset—

I cannot walk through all realms—
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark—

What shall I do with all this heartache?

The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway—
To the edge of the river of life, and drink—

I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:

Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .

To drink deep what is undrinkable.