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A day is like this empty wooden bowl
taken into the field for gathering morels.
Some days the increase in weight is obvious,
and harvest spills over the rim. But weight is not
the worth of a day. Some days the bowl returns
empty, carried on its side between the hip and the arm.
But emptiness is no measure of what has been found.
There is, perhaps, an impulse to gauge success
based on fullness. But the bowl can’t hold
the memory of light slipping like an aria between
cottonwood limbs, can’t hold the scent of rain
or the burrs of disappointment. No, it is we
who carry the bowl, the memory, the day.
We stop sometimes to label things good or bad
or lucky or not, when all the while
we, too, are being carried by the same world
we believe we are carrying. We are the work
of the world. In the field, the morels grow,
or they do not.

A Strange Knowing

It is not only that the desert longs for water.
Of course the water longs for desert, too.
Any raindrop can fall and get lost in an ocean,
but to fall where it’s parched, where just
the smallest amount of wet can launch a hundred
hundred blooms, can set ten thousand thousand
seeds into frothy flight, oh. Now that is something
worth falling for. No imaginary desert. The real thing,
all prickle and spine and thorn and barb.
And the petals after. The heat can spend months
holding off just the briefest sprinkle. But then
no one said it was going to be easy, this going
where we’re needed most. Patience is the marriage
of sweetness and sting. To bring life one must also be alive.

After Many Attempts

Just because it wasn’t here yesterday
doesn’t mean it won’t be here today.
Some things arrive only in their own time.
Just because I am talking about morels
doesn’t mean I’m not talking about love.
And here it is, golden and misshapen,
something I step over once before discovering.
I mean, isn’t it wonderful when sometimes
we choose to show up and then, well,
it’s not really an accident, is it, that we find ourselves
with our hands, our hearts so full.

Time to Step Out

Inside me, the rain
is washing away
the hardened clay
of my former lives—
all those statues
that others and I
have built, see
how they erode.
Not all art endures.
The rain is blameless.
I saw a man
who’d been wrung
by storm, his eyes
as clear as rain,
his arms as open
as wind, his body
one grief and one joy.
I have spent
too much time
avoiding the rain.
I asked the man
how it felt
to be so wrung.
He said to me,
free.

I like a straight line.
—Todd Videlock

Not the worm,
not the stick,
not the swollen
river bed,
not the canyon,
not the fish,
nor stems
of violets,
and not
the field grass,
not the vine,
there’s something
that can’t love
straight lines,
and love
could never,
ever work
upon a grid—
it needs
a curve,
an arc,
a bending
sigh,
like a moon,
like a swan,
like the tail
of a kite.

It’s Possible

Where have you hidden your fear?
—Wendy Videlock

Sometimes in yellowed pages,
sometimes in apple seeds,
beneath a flight of squeaky stairs,
inside abandoned shoes.
But also in the syllables
that never meet the air,
in broken cups,
and under leaves,
inside the writhing jazz.
And sometimes I forget to hide
my fear behind the dusty vase.
I leave it on the countertop
or in my shopping cart
where a child who does not know
that it is something to be feared
will pick it up and play with it
like a ball, like a doll,
like a shard of a fun house mirror.

so much rain
all the rooks, bishops, pawns and kings
slip off their squares
into vast mud puddles, laughing
till even the hands that move them jump in

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