A Nearly Perfect Morning

It was a nearly perfect morning—bucolic, pastoral—
so I found myself cataloguing my past humiliations.
Really, there was no reason for it! I might as well have
looked for an ant hill to lie down on in a meadow
of goldenrod. I can’t explain it but perhaps I thought
that with the rising sun as my witness, with the catbirds
crows, and whizzing hummingbirds my soundtrack
that I could ameliorate them, neutralize their charges
against me by holding them up to the woods now in wait
for the light to balance on their individual leaves, on
the absorbing vastness of my fortune. The concentric rings
of the spider web have the wiry shine of guitar strings
there’s been so little wind it seems the trees have not
yet shook themselves awake, but we are moving around
this light at such a pace that by now the sun is nested
in the crook of two thin branches that could not hold
anything else. I was barely up to the third count
against my integrity when the whole lake turned white
but I decided it was not aghast, just trying to erase.

Regardless of Disaster

Only through a disaster or a renovation
does the entire brick side of a house come down
and in this case the workmen threw stoves and refrigerators
out the windows, letting them bounce
off the fire escapes into the little Brooklyn yard.
And I wouldn’t presume to say
they did it gleefully, but the brute force
resulting in the massive sound
well, it would be difficult not to feel some satisfaction
I would think, but I don’t take apart
whole houses for long hours at a time, and I
can’t say how anything around me experiences life—
for instance whether the sparrows
who burrow in the small hill of dirt
by sitting close as cookies on a cookie sheet
then fluttering and chittering, and turning a bit
like gears in a watch, and more chittering
as if they are winding it—
whether enjoyment comes to the sparrows;
nor the tenor when the mice, bucking expectation
change direction to squeeze inside
after the long winter, seemingly undeterred by the four of us
having an earnest discussion about the painting in the Whitney
but racing—calmly, somehow—between the couches
as if it were their private two a.m.;
or the ants who also appeared in the kitchen as if
the first daffodils in the yard trumpeted directions to them
to carry items thrice their size right away
finding just what they needed, a year later;
and all this triggering a cleaning jag
during which I pulled the refrigerator and stove
out from the wall, cleared the shelves, took out the rugs
and saw the naked planes and corners
we made a life within, while across the yards
the construction crew, passing
their own halfway point, had begun to rebuild the place.
How emphatically the truly knowledgeable have worked
to insure we don’t ascribe delight
to living things other than ourselves! But when
the cardinal joins his mate on the top of the fence—
a peck on the beak—framed by the bared stories of the house
and the furred buds on the winter straw of a bush
look like green hoofs about to gallop into leafness
you can’t tell me to separate
the work of instinct from the moment for a jay
when something feels one-hulled-sunflower-seed-better
than the moment-before-the-sunflower-seed
or to deny that fortune in this place
has allowed optimism to alight with sunlight
on the orange construction helmet of the man now
home in bed—regardless, regardless of it all.

Related Poems

[Sometimes I don't know if I'm having a feeling]

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m having a feeling
so I check my phone or squint at the window
with a serious look, like someone in a movie
or a mother thinking about how time passes.
Sometimes I’m not sure how to feel so I think
about a lot of things until I get an allergy attack.
I take my antihistamine with beer, thank you very much,
sleep like a cut under a band aid, wake up
on the stairs having missed the entire party.
It was a real blast, I can tell, for all the vases
are broken, the flowers twisted into crowns
for the young, drunk, and beautiful. I put one on
and salute the moon, the lone face over me
shining through the grates on the front door window.
You have seen me like this before, such a strange
version of the person you thought you knew.
Guess what, I’m strange to us both. It’s like
I’m not even me sometimes. Who am I? A question
for the Lord only to decide as She looks over
my résumé. Everything is different sometimes.
Sometimes there is no hand on my shoulder
but my room, my apartment, my body are containers
and I am thusly contained. How easy to forget
the obvious. The walls, blankets, sunlight, your love.