Vow of Extinction

From this day forward all plants
except the lemon tree
will be banished from my poems

From this day forward I am wedded to the sky

All clouds shall be banished
and my memory of them vanish
like memory itself

Not even a lime shall sneak in

Animals shall exit my poems
including those that cross the sky
in herds or as stragglers

Without plants, without animals
people cannot survive in my poems
so they too shall be sent,
those with shoes and those without
in a long line leaving

Leaving myself under the lemon tree
wedded to the sky
that is light then dark then light

Candles are forbidden

I will feel the terrible weight of twilight
as it falls over the land like a despondent minx,
words I might formerly have used for a squirrel

From this cretinous proposition
I shall write my poems
and try to reach those
who no longer exist

They are not in this poem or any other

From this day forward
I eat lemons in my park

Their complete similarity to me
can now be distinguished

To speak of my promise,
my offering to the sky,
puts a sprig in my mouth

Would this not then be my entry into society?

Copyright © 2018 Mary Ruefle. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, September/October 2018. Used with permission of the author.