{The Coming}

This is the way the sun comes up over the Indian Ocean:

A painting erupts
out of the long darkness
of a Kenyan night.
The clouds wait for the sun like
disciples who wait for the Coming.
They face due east, their edges slowly, slowly
turning white then orange with anticipation.

The birds, small white and black creatures,
flit over the low ocean, flipping and diving and flying as if
escaping a monster that has long since given up.

The sand — coarse and forgiving, “a pearly rubble” —
slopes down toward the ever reaching fingers of the waves.

The crabs scuttle back and forth, carefully
and methodically digging a temporary home for themselves,
knowing that the waves will come again and again.
Their eyes are attentive and their legs quick.

The palm trees lean toward the sea.
Always rejoicing, they offer their branches
in celebration.

The baobab tree stands in the shadow
of its own branches, the leaves dark green.
Grandparent of the ages, it is
playground and home to the monkeys.

What I’m saying is this:
We have been made as alive as the
ocean and clouds and sand and crabs
and palm trees and the baobab and monkeys.

You, too, are waiting.
You, too, belong here.

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{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.

{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.

{26 October 2017}

At the beach today, we bury two animals.

One, a sea slug, we think, or a kind of sea cucumber.
We gather arounds its body resting in a wet sand grave.
We marvel at its anatomy, turning it over and prodding it
Gently with a piece of driftwood.
As we cover it with sand, seaweed, and small rocks,
We sing a song of blessing:

I behold you beautiful one,
I behold you child of the earth and sun,
Let our love wash over you,
Let our love wash over you.

Two, along the bottom of the cliffs facing the ocean, a small possum.
Nestled in the cracks of the soft sandstone,
He looks like he died in the middle of a dream,
His long, thin snout in the air, still smelling the salty air,
I imagine, — when do the cells stop processing information?
We cover him in stones, and I sing the
Song silently over his body.

I behold you beautiful one,
I behold you child of the earth and sun,
Let my love wash over you,
Let my love wash over you.

Later, we gather shells and seaweed and rocks and sea glass
And crab legs and drift wood
Along the edge of the water,
Ocean gifts running here and there in the tide.
We display them on the sand,
A ‘touch-see-and-feel’ museum.

Seaweed dries in tangled piles on the beach.
As we approach, small flies burst into the air,
Our presence disrupting their feeding attention.
They live off the dying, drying seaweed.
We carry bunches in our hands back to the driftwood fort,
Decorating the entrance.

We play with the sea like a long-lost sister.
Jumping and crashing our bodies into the waves,
The water carries us out and back in.
The gifts, shells and driftwood,
Who knows how long she has carried them.

The sun is shining today.
What more could we wish for?

{9 October 2017}

Today, two men in the coffee shop shared a poem
written in big enough font so they could both read it.

Today, a bird saw me coming on the bike lane,
hopped out of the way, and chirped at me as I passed,
a greeting, I think.

Today, a little girl smiled at me across the counter
with a smile almost as wide as her face.

Today, a piece of metal from my bike
reflected a small rainbow on the path.

Today, I ate food born of the earth’s
dark, ancient soil.

Today, I spoke to someone across the Atlantic and
their face was clear as crystal as they told me about their life far away.

Today, the blue windy sky danced on my skin,
and by ‘danced’ I mean ‘opened my eyes.’

Today, a woman in the store told me she loved
to hear us laugh.

Today, two little boys laughed loud at all my dumb jokes
and all their own silly noises.

Tell me about your day.
Was it a miracle like mine?

{18 August 2017: The Life of a Tractor Seat}

A rusted metal tractor seat is wedged between the cracks of the huge rocks.
We have built a small fire into it, roasting too-big marshmallows
Over our meager and perfect flame.

We joke about the life of a tractor seat.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry or simply
Wallow in the mystery.

The boys’ hands maneuver wood, resting the logs in the curves and holes
Of the old piece of equipment.
Our fire flames bigger, casting its orange light on our faces,
And suddenly: new purpose: a new life.

Like the butterflies pinned to a glass frame
Hanging on the wall of the cabin,
Death of something brings purpose to another.

My fingers float in the warm air above the fire and I can
Almost see the butterflies fly away.