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All those plans we had for what we thought
love was supposed to be—all those directions
that someone else wrote that we followed step by step,

all those destinations we knew we just had to reach,
all those trails and roads and paths,
they were all dead ends.

It was innocent enough. Still, when standing at the edge
of a cliff that was supposed to be happily ever after, it is hard
to not want to blame someone.

And after the days of vertigo, and after the nights
of told-you-so and after the years of why and how
and taking an eraser to all the plans,

and after the shedding and after the seeking
and after we stopped believing in believing,
and after the masks fell off and our hands were emptied

love showed up right here, growing like a volunteer seed.
Who could say what it is, what it will become?
So we nourish it together, marveling as it grows into itself.

One Hint About Buoyancy

just before I drown
I remember all those beautiful rocks
I put in my pockets

We may turn and turn again toward the light, but the darkness
passes through us. Earth, they say, and everything on it,
is hurtling (even now as you read this), through a sea
of dark matter, dense and deep, and every second
our bodies are rushed by billions of dark matter particles.

They rush through the jaguar as he stalks and springs.
They rush through us as we eat jellybeans. They rush
through the June bug nibbling on leaves. They rush
through the migrating juncos. The dark, though we
cannot see it nor feel it, it moves through our hands, our spleens,

our teeth. It rushes through ticks on the backs of jackrabbits.
It rushes through jellyfish deep in the sea. It rushes
through jars and cars and clouds. It rushes through jasmine vines,
mountains and trees. The dark matter, it does not rest in us
long enough to make of our bodies a home. But the rush of dark matter

never ends, it’s an infinite stream. It passes through us
as we eat jalapeños or sleep in hammocks or play jacks with our kids.
It matters not, desert, city or jungle. The dark
does not care one whit where we live. Even in daylight,
even by candlelight, even by starlight or campfire glow,

the dark, it passes through us. And sometimes its particles collide
with our atoms. Though we never feel it at all—it’s a mystery,
a secret we’ve yet to decode, a gravity that rules us. Imagine,
the most light we’ve ever known was rushed by dark matter through
and through. Even if you turn toward light, the dark runs through you.

Not running, not humming, not
flying a kite, not rowing,
not kissing, not kneading soft dough,
not sipping mint tea, not shoveling sand,
not raking, not lifting, not opening doors,
not thinking of you except when I do
to say to myself to stop thinking of you,
not writing a grant, not washing
the floor, and meanwhile the silence
is silent beneath all my nattering
chatter and for an instant between
the not folding, not driving,
not typing, not weeding
the infinite nothing of silence
not changing, not able to be told.

It always seems as if it should add up,
except it doesn’t. Not like the story problems
did in school. No. In this equation, x
represents the rate at which sweet peas
climb an orchard’s wire fence, and y
is the speed that snowflakes fall without
accounting for wind. And z is the reason
that all those snowflakes never seem to find
your waiting tongue. Don’t take it personally. It’s statistics.
Then s is the way that the low light at sunrise
makes every other variable shine. Which changes
everything. Until f is the sloth-like velocity
of a deeply held sorrow just starting to mend. And g
is the relative effect of one extended open hand.
And h is a pair of seahorses with their tails
intertwined. Or maybe it’s a flock of seagulls
returning to the land. Or maybe it’s crazy
to try to assign meaning to any of this.
It seems obvious. The heart just wants to love.
But then y is the hole the size of Saturn that
you sometimes feel ringing inside your gut.
And g is the swan-like gracefulness
you thought you’d have once you grew up.
But d is the way you are more like a squirrel.
And j is the value of a sand dollar saved
for twenty years. And p is the sweet scent
of strawberries, ripe. And k is the surfboard
you never bought. And o is the way you often feel
like a sidewinder—edging slyly, slantly along.
You dream of straight lines, of answers that work out
neatly, efficiently, sure of themselves. But already,
x is a starfish, and y is just a homophone, and t is
the way you see yourself sometimes, scribbling away
as if it’s all some kind of test. And s is the sweet compassion
you offer yourself, even now as you watch yourself draw up
a new proof, determined to solve it right this time.

Two Beside the Fish Pond

the more still the blue
heron sits on his rock the more
my thoughts grow wings

*

such a fleeting
darkening on my face—
the shade of herons

The guide stabbed the small round of cactus with his knife,
then held it up in front of him. With his other hand,
he flicked on his lighter and began to burn off the spines.
I do not remember the smell of it, nor how much it smoked.
What I remember is how he was left with a smooth and harmless
lump of green in his palm. He sliced it opened and taught us to drink.
It could save you, he said, if you find yourself lost in the desert.

Do this, love. Burn off my spines. Whatever bristles I have grown
to protect myself, set them aflame. Open me however you can,
and pull me to your lips. Let me do the same with you.
We are all lost in the desert.

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