The fire beetle only mates when the chaparral is burning, and the water beetle will only mate in the rain. In the monastery’s kitchen, the nuns don’t believe me when I tell them how old I am, that you were married before. The woman you find attractive does not believe me when I look at her kindly. There are candescent people in the world. It will only be love that I love you with. When we get home, there will be our kitchen, the dishes undone. There will be our bedroom. What is it you eventually recognized in my face that allowed you to believe me? Beauty that did not come from you— remember how it did not come from you? As white sage does not come from the moon but is found by it and lit. The Buddhists say that the front of the paper cannot exist without the back. Because there is a there, there is a here. Chaparral, the density of growth, and the tattered chaps the mappers wore through it because they had to, to keep walking without being hurt. It is OK if we hurt one another. Chaparral needs fire. (The pinecones would not open otherwise.) Love needs lover, whose last lover was flood.
Leah Naomi Green
“God is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.” —Borges 1. The peony, which was not open this morning, has opened, falling over its edges like the circumference of God, still clasped at the center: my two-month-old daughter’s hand in Palmer reflex, having endured from the apes: ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny, clutching for fur. Her face is always tilted up when I carry her, her eyes, always blue. She is asking nothing of the sky, nothing of the pileated woodpeckers, their directionless wings, directed bodies, the unmoved moving. 2. Hold still, song of the wood thrush, twin voice boxes poised, smell of the creek and the locust flowers, white as wafers on the branches, communion: pistil, stamen, bee. Hold still. She doesn’t say a word. 3. When we eat, what we eat is the body of the world. Also when we do not eat. She is asking the sky for milk. Take and eat, we tell her, this is my body which is given for you, child, who are here now, though you were not, though you will be old then absent again: sad to us going forward in time but not back. Not sad to you at all. The peony whose circumference is nowhere, you, whose head now is weighted to my chest, the creek stringing lights along next to us, the peony which has opened.