each moment a white bull steps shining into the world :: jane hirshfield

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated,
brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant—

Stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’ve come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling.
That you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

the weight of the sun :: charlotte pence

I like the 4 a.m. feedings best, tilting
the rocking chair back and forth
with my toes, observing how the invisible

lines of our dark yard rest against
the lines of other yards—of other lives.
Before the sun rises, this small wedge

of the world momentarily in agreement:
everyone on this block wishing for sleep,
for peace, for the coming day to be better

than the last. I like thinking how the grass
growing a thousandth of an inch every
fifteen minutes is celebrating something

as I celebrate solving small mysteries
like learning that a red fox is the one who
flattens the path through the lawn.

Mainly I like pretending I am the only one
awake, the only one seeing the world
at this instant. The navy sky, thick as blood,

is my blood, as the fracture of stars, bright
as raw bone, is my bone. I like being
reminded that we all began in dark and stars,

that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen
in our bodies was created 4.5 billion
years ago in another generation of stars,

that somehow if we could weigh the sun,
all rising 418 nonillion pounds of it,
we’d see that strength is never needed

to begin the day. No, it’s something else.
Behind every square of light flipped on,
someone is standing or slouching, stretching

or sighing, someone is covering her face
or uncovering it, someone is thinking,
Today, I will I will I will….

a glittering :: sarah manguso

One mourner says if I can just get through this year as if salvation comes in January.

Slow dance of suicides into the earth:

I see no proof there is anything else. I keep my obituary current, but believe that good times are right around the corner

Una grande scultura posse rotolare giù per una collina senza rompersi, Michelangelo is believed to have said (though he never did): To determine the essential parts of a sculpture, roll it down a hill. The inessential parts will break off.

That hill, graveyard of the inessential, is discovered by the hopeless and mistaken for the world just before they mistake themselves for David’s white arms.

They are wrong. But to assume oneself essential is also wrong: a conundrum.

To be neither essential nor inessential—not to exist except as the object of someone’s belief, like those good times lying right around the corner—is the only possibility.

Nothing, nobody matters.

And yet the world is full of love . . .

blessings :: jay parini

Blessings for these things:
the dandelion greens I picked in summer
and would douse with vinegar and oil
at grandma’s little house in Pennsylvania,
near the river. Or the small potatoes
she would spade to boil and butter,
which I ate like fruit with greasy fingers.

Blessings for my friend, thirteen
that summer when we prayed by diving from a cliff
on Sunday mornings in the church
of mud and pebbles, foam and moss.
I will not forget the fizz and tingle,
sunning in wet skin on flat, cool rocks,
so drenched in summer.

And for you, my love, blessings
for the times we lay so naked in a bed
without the sense of turbulence or tides.
I could just believe the softness of our skin,
those sheets like clouds,
how when the sunlight turned to roses,
neither of us dared to move or breathe.

Blessings on these things and more:
the rivers and the houses full of light,
the bitter weeds that taste like sun,
dirt-sweetened spuds,
the hard bright pebbles, spongy mosses,
lifting of our bodies into whiffs of cloud,
all sleep-warm pillows in the break of dawn.

the song of empty rooms :: wale owoade

The fire you wore is the color
of my eyes. I have mistook a quiet

room once for your laughter
and the curtains once for your hair.

My shadow: plural and your absence:
a chorus—a fistful of light through

the crack—cobwebs as piano keys—
cupboards and drawers for keeping

memories—green blessings growing
in the sink—your shadow stepping

out of the wall. I am waiting for when
you will open the door. An empty

room is another word for music,
the song of the man, the woman,

the boy and the girl that slipped
out and left their shadows behind.

Your voice is my favorite album,
you left but your bones are still here.

for keeps :: joy harjo

Sun makes the day new.
Tiny green plants emerge from earth.
Birds are singing the sky into place.
There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us.
We gallop into a warm, southern wind.
I link my legs to yours and we ride together,
Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives.
Where have you been? they ask.
And what has taken you so long?
That night after eating, singing, and dancing
We lay together under the stars.
We know ourselves to be part of mystery.
It is unspeakable.
It is everlasting.
It is for keeps.

hymn to time :: ursula k. le guin

Time says “Let there be”
every moment and instantly
there is space and the radiance
of each bright galaxy.

And eyes beholding radiance.
And the gnats’ flickering dance.
And the seas’ expanse.
And death, and chance.

Time makes room
for going and coming home
and in time’s womb
begins all ending.

Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.