Posts Tagged ‘rabbit brush’

End Well

End well, says my friend,

and I think of Beethoven,

how his final symphony

was a triumphant masterpiece,

a unifying ode to joy.

And I think of the time

we ran the Grand Canyon

for weeks and on the last night

we tied the boats together

and floated all night and laughed

and laughed and laughed.

There’s the Rilke poem

about a marble torso

in which he closes with

You must change your life.

And espresso at the end

of a meal, how the dark bitter cup

leaves the mouth

in an warm O of ecstasy.

But it isn’t always easy to end—

saying goodbye to a faraway friend.

Ending a kiss. Leaving the beach.

Turning the last pages of a book.

So I think of the rabbitbrush

that fill the field—how long

they hold their gold. Until

it’s cold and they fade

and it seems like the end—

but then, if I should shovel

across them, or walk through them

in the early snow, oh the perfume

they release then—evergreeen

and earthy, herbaceous and cool.

Sometimes to end well

is to offer more

when it all seems done.

Sometimes to end well

Is to surprise everyone

with one more gift.

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The moon was hidden and the scent

of rabbit brush was thick, so thick

a woman could be hypnotized by it—


it seemed to come from everywhere,

the garbled light, the sage-sharp scent,

the sound of every step she took, and


every step she took felt like

a baptism, though into what, she could

not say—herself, perhaps, but more


the world, and yes, it was

the kind of tenderness

one only meets when we’re


alone and somehow lost

inside the night, amazed that it

can be so warm, so gentle,


shocked that we can be so slight

we almost, almost disappear—

but ah, the sound of every step she took


reminded her that she was here—

and sage-sharp scent of rabbit brush

caressed her every everywhere,


and led her deeper into night,

soft sound of footsteps, garbled light,

the snarl of squirrel nests in the trees


made visible through silhouette,

and every every step she took felt

like a baptism, like a rite


though rite of what, she could not say,

the moonlight gave itself away

the rabbit brush said here, here, here.


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And all at once the field

turns white with froth

as yellow tubes

of chamisa blooms

are lost, their perfect

composition giving way

to lathered dross.


The soul takes note—

considers how all patterns

come to naught

before rebuilding.


Some part of us resists.

Some part can’t wait

to lose its shape

and weave itself into

the larger cloth.



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first snow

and fields of rabbit brush

reveal their gold—

live like that, heart, I say,

unapologetic and flourishing



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Letter to F. C.

I had not known
to call the rabbit brush
chamisa. I wonder now how
this might have changed things,
knowing how the right name
can sometimes soften a woman.
It would be harder to say the word as a curse,
chamisa, chamisa. Today it is easy to enjoy
the way it hums in the center,
then slips off the lips at the end.

And could the tall, fragrant brush have
slipped like those syllables through my
weeding hands? All those years of ripping it up.
I laugh about it now, how I thought I needed an enemy.
And why? Some sense of hierarchy?
Some sense of control?

You are right to notice how I have built
a new kind of shrine, how sadness has
done what sadness does, made me
more open to praising how many shades of gray
are at play in a single moment. It is easier to see them
when I am not so distracted by gold and by blue.

But I have no need to weed out the sadness
as I surely tried to years ago. Perhaps
because I gave it a softer name. Surrender.
. It rolls around in the back of the mouth
before I swallow the sound. It is beautiful growing
out there in the field where before I only
could tolerate bright mounds of happinesses.

I smile that you say I am still building. I like to say
that I am unbuilding whatever it is I think I know.
But that, of course, is just a new way of knowing,
a new way of building. I had to sleep with the words before I knew
how true they were. Fortress or cathedral, you say.
I say, sometimes I hang up a welcome sign
and then, quickly, quietly, close the iron gate.

I would like to build a church to brokenness,
though perhaps brokenness is just another word
for whole. They are equally lovely to say,
one cracking open in the center,
one chiming with ohm.

Already I have said too much. What I wanted to say
was thank you. For showing me what I could not see.
For the call to listen to my heart. And for this line,
the dignity of consequences. I am learning
to feel the blessings, which is, perhaps,
just a beautiful word for “what is.”
Blessings. Blessings. Among many, you
are one of the easiest to see.

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The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Dear World,

Thank you for breaking me.

The rabbit brush are in full bloom.
Yellow in the field. Yesterday
I mowed the edges of the drive
and as a matter of course
I mowed whatever rabbit brush
was in my path. The air
smelled so good then,
a clean, sharp scent,
almost like sage,
only softer.

I have not been very good.
I have not been very gentle.
I have not been very brave.
But I have been sincere.
And I have loved.

There was a time when
I wanted to weed all the rabbit brush
from the field. I wanted only field grass.
I would wait for it to rain for days,
then pull up as much rabbit brush as I could.

World, I have not been very good.
And you have broken me so perfectly—
always leading me to just the right place
for falling apart. World, how do you do that?

The rabbit brush always come back
and eventually I learned to leave them
wherever they leap up. And eventually I learned
to find them beautiful.

I have not been very gentle, world.
I have taken what I wanted, sometimes mercilessly.
And you take every opportunity to kill me,
sometimes with fear, sometimes
with great or small beauty.

Yellow. Yellow. Yellow.
Thousands of yellow hands
all waving each time I arrive.

World, I have not been very brave.
I am not like Hemingway. When the war comes
I try to hide. And still you come to kill me
like a warrior, like a soldier,
only much, much slower.

The rabbit brush does not mind drought.
It thrives in cracked, parched soil.
The rabbit brush does not mind the rain.
It thrives. It thrives.

I can’t say I like being broken, world.
I can’t say I like being killed.
But you do it so well and I do admire
your insuperable skill. Keep killing me,
world, keep breaking me. Keep finding
my flaws. Press until I crack.
I am broken, dying, thriving. I am waving
at you waving back.

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