Posts Tagged ‘falling apart’

On Earth Day

Of course, the trees with their greening,
their growing, their gift of eating light—
how beautiful they are in these first days of spring:
their feathery drupes that gather low sun,
the tender gold when the leaves first unfurl.

But today I am awed by the vital soil that feeds them—
awed by the multipedes and woodlice, fly larvae and springtails
that fragment the once-living world into mulch;  
awed by the nematodes, the mites, the pauropods,
awed by the rotifers, the algae, the bacteria,

the single-celled protozoans—all of these makers of earth.
There’s elegance in the process—the breaking down,
the separation of proteins, the release of nitrogen,
the creation of rich, dark humus.
How seldom I honor the beauty of tearing apart,

the blessing of brokenness, the importance of those
who undo, who help the world go to pieces.
The earth itself is an altar to breakdown, decay,
collapse, demise. And from these infinite violences,
we rise, like trees, we rise.

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And if the rope knots come undone,

and if the ladder drops its rungs,

and if the hands forget to grasp,

and if what’s hanging falls at last,

there’ll still be more to fall apart—

we haven’t mentioned yet the heart

(not pictured here, but nonetheless

the heart’s an omnipresent lens).

It’s more a matter of when than if

every woman fathoms this.

She’s been the hands curled on the shelf,

the rope, the rungs, the fall itself.

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A tiny screw,
a tiny screw
beneath the butts
and cheat grass stems
and fallen in
between the rocks,
a tiny screw,
a tiny screw,
you almost missed it,
didn’t you, and what
did it hold together?
The sharp end broken,
useless now. Was
it mine? How
many lives does it
take to unscrew the
light? We are all
falling apart. In our wake,
we leave hundreds,
thousands of invisible
screws—in our lawns,
in our beds, between
our car seats, in thin
alleys, on stages,
beneath the fridge.
We are all trying
to pretend we can hold it
together. Next time, maybe
you’ll notice them,
not the millions of screws
we’re constantly stepping over, but
these holes that get harder
to hide from ourselves,
from each other.

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Mom picks over the blues to find
the barely discernable line
where sky meets clouds. I push

around the reds of the Indian Paintbrush.
She slides me an odd-shaped piece,
mostly green, with the tiniest ruby tip.

Those, she says, are often the hardest
to find, but make the biggest difference.
We have done this for decades, traded

tessellating bits of flowers or castles
or horses or sky. We have interlocked
the bodies of wolves and assembled

mountains and rivers, all the while chatting back
and forth about whatever subjects rise—
which is often something falling apart,

a dream unmet, a breaking heart.
We always begin with the straight edges,
creating the puzzle’s frame. Perhaps

it’s a comforting pretense—that the world
can be edged in. Tonight, the reds
get the better of me. I can make nothing fit.

I try and retry to piece them together
and the holes and knobs resist. But
our conversation surges on despite my

ineptitude. It blossoms in the puzzles cracks,
all those holes unfilled—our talk spills
across whatever boxes we might want

to catch it in. Our losses and wonders
slip from our lips like the clouds
in this jigsaw scene, from blue into deeper blue.

It all seems the same somehow, the sorrow,
the gladness, the then, the now, the doing,
the not doing, the borders, the holes,

as if we’re all part of an infinite,
uncontrollable, ever-changing weather,
but what do I know of forever.

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