Conversation

The shadow of the vulture passes quickly—
much more quickly than the body passes
when I look at it directly, and so I will

avoid the usual understandings in which
we might discuss a vulture or its shadow
(as emblems of death…there, I’ve said it)

to mention how illusory the shadow is:
merely a dimming of grass, pavement.
However many times you reach your

aging hand out to it, you never touch
anything like a buzzard’s feathers.
But if you look at the right moment,

you see a bird, beyond the bird, the sun,
and if you return to yourself as if in a mirror,
then and only then has our conversation begun.

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Willows Weep Not

Young Willow Tree

Willows Weep Not

They say some branches bend toward
earth in sadness, but can we not see
in you curiosity—oh, willow tree—
or a desire to rest your splendor as
peacocks do? The plummet of your
boughs could indicate any number of
moods and so many intentions. If I had
the body of a tree, I would surely want
to lower my limbs to carry caterpillars
while they’re yet crawling, to welcome
the activity of tiny, momentary legs on
my bark before chrysalis transforms
climbing into an airy affair. I would not
want to keep my foliage so far from
grounded things. Why do we not name
these or other understandings which you
embody as much as that of weeping?
We do not hear you sob or whimper or
wail with the working of some injury.
Still, we say you weep—that the sadness
of the world should belong to a tree.
Yet if there is sadness, it must grow from
the capacity to see in your firework form
anything but an explosion of life and in
your leaves a beautiful intricacy.

Young Willow Branches

The Names of Herbs

Three Herbs

The Names of Herbs

The names of herbs encrypt the sensual
realms accessed by way of their aromas,
secreting vast odoriferous spaces behind
five or seven letters. “Basil” becomes
wooded streams banked by lichen-covered
stones or rusty-hinged gates hung with ivy.
“Oregano” grows into busy marketplaces
made of brick or tall ships laden with
fabrics and perfume. “Rosemary” reveals
meadows inhabited by iridescent insects or
attics full of dust motes and piles of quilts.
We stir these realms away into soups and
ragouts, sprinkle bits of them onto bread.
Maybe—for a kitchen moment—one might
catch a nose-glimpse and be transported.

Appleseed

Apple in a Field

Appleseed

A seed is a question
that knows its own
answer—vital—
ready to be told;
is a parchment
that’s written its own
history—all there—
ready to unfold;
is a treasure
that’s forgotten its own
worth—alcoved—
ready to be disclosed.

Then—when the
moment ripens—
plant, fruit, cider—
offer themselves to those
who have waited patiently.