How do I convey the shoring gold
at the core of the Florentine bells’
Vast as a suddenly revealed
field of wheat,
that up-and-away gold
is equivalent to the match-burst
morning I returned,
intent as doubting Thomas,
to my old classroom terrace,
open to the showy, blue yes
of the bustling Arno,
to my timeless, sun-laved
Basilica of Santo Spirito,
ebullient citizens reciting,
at a hundred different posts,
the same unbetraying passage
of Dante’s Paradise.
— Cyrus Cassells
I will wait, said wood, and it did.
Ten years, a hundred, a thousand, a million—
It did not matter. Time was not its measure,
Not its keeper, nor its master.
Wood was trees in those first days.
And when wood sang, it was leaves,
Which took flight and became birds.
It is still forest here, the forest of used-to-be.
Its trees are the trees of memory.
Their branches—so many tongues, so many hands—
They still speak a story to those who will listen.
By only looking without listening, you will not hear the trees.
You will see only hard stone and flattened landscape,
But if you’re quiet, you will hear it.
The leaves liked the wind, and went with it.
The trees grew more leaves, but wind took them all.
And then the bare trees were branches, which in their frenzy
Made people think of so many ideas—
Branches were lines on the paper of sky,
Drawing shapes on the shifting clouds
Until everyone agreed that they saw horses.
Wood was also the keeper of fires.
So many people lived from what wood gave them.
The cousins of wood went so many places
Until almost nobody was left—that is the way
Of so many families. But wood was steadfast
Even though it was hard from loneliness. Still,
I will wait, said wood, and it did.
— Alberto Rios
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
— Joy Harjo
Most likely, you think we hated the elephant,
the golden toad, the thylacine and all variations
of whale harpooned or hacked into extinction.
It must seem like we sought to leave you nothing
but benzene, mercury, the stomachs
of seagulls rippled with jet fuel and plastic.
You probably doubt that we were capable of joy,
but I assure you we were.
We still had the night sky back then,
and like our ancestors, we admired
its illuminated doodles
of scorpion outlines and upside-down ladles.
Absolutely, there were some forests left!
Absolutely, we still had some lakes!
I’m saying, it wasn’t all lead paint and sulfur dioxide.
There were bees back then, and they pollinated
a euphoria of flowers so we might
contemplate the great mysteries and finally ask,
“Hey guys, what’s transcendence?”
And then all the bees were dead.
— Matthew Olzmann
As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
They sat beside me
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.
— Claribel Alegria
What you have not done
is without error. What you
have not said is beyond contradiction.
What you understand of God
was yesterday. Today a bicycle
waits, chained to a bench.
The success of this afternoon’s nap
is the dream of lifting seven boxes,
your week, sealed with clear tape.
They stack, three to a column,
with the seventh like a capstone.
What you do not know they contain.
— Michael Chitwood