{17 April 2018}

I muck actual bull shit into a four meter deep pit
Below the stables that are home to 55 dairy cows
On a small island in a lake in the middle of Holland.

If you didn’t know the dignity of the land,
You might not even call it an island, just
A collection of fields and small canals.

I’m wearing a pink tank top my mom’s best friend and
My namesake gave my mom.
The shirt feels tight with meaning and the
Sawdust covering the front is suddenly bothersome.

Through the huge barn door, I can see various songbirds and
The eurasian magpie, which my friend says is the only
Beautiful bird in his country.

I’m thinking about the first line of my memoir.

I’m thinking:
This is merely what happened when the problem began
to look like a life-sized problem.

Later, after the cows have been fed,
Their heads draped over the edge of the stalls,
Their tongues, long like giraffes’, eating the hay urgently,
I sit outside on a concrete slab in the middle of the grass,
Writing on the back of my Wendell Berry book, and
I wonder how these words push their way out of me,
Onto a page of paper torn out of a notebook, and
Into this world.

The cows are eating as if it were
The most important thing,
Which, I guess, it is, right then.

Learning from example, urgently, I take in this moment,
This life-sized moment:
The cold concrete under me, the wet grass against my boots,
The pen in my fingers, the words in my throat,
The cows in the barn, the magpies gliding,
The blue sky slowly darkening,
The new day coming.

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{A Story of Birds}

For high above, flew the cranes

I wonder what ancient star song lays
rolled like a message in the bottle of their hollow bones
that moves forward their dinosaur bodies.
Probably hunger or thirst or fear.

And down below, we walked

Muley said that the hunted cannot be strong,
only fierce.
The egrets, small creatures with yellow legs
and feathers that seem an impossible white,
peck and jab at the sand, hunting.
I think maybe their hunted,
the tiny, muscular sand fleas,
are strong, and willing.

But it’s unfathomable, really.
Time and sand and death
and birds and all.

{The Bird}

I walk the dirt path,
my toes gripping the rocks under
foot, and I kneel.
My knees almost touching
the ground, I see a small bird,
hidden in the bush.
She watches me, her eyes
minute and twinkling.
Her beak, electric blue.
Her feet, small, delicately
pinch the leaf on which
she is resting.
I grin.
She flutters to another leaf;
the one she left
shudders slightly, as if
missing her presence.

I wonder, my little friend,
what is my purpose
in comparison to yours?
What are my feet, big
and clumsy, next to yours.
My face, more
demanding of attention.
My chest, of so few colors.

The bird hops out of the bush,
to the ground, lifts her wings,
flies away.
I stand up, my knees cracking.
“I wish,”
I say to her silhouette
in the blue,
“I wish I could hear
your voice.”


PS: Partial poem creds to Mary Oliver for encouraging me use capitalization, punctuation, and longer lines. Also for telling me to pay attention to the world around me. 🙂