My corkscrew willow’s the last each autumn
to loose its slender fingers of dried gold;
first each spring to clutch my heart
with, overnight, a thousand fisted buds.
Today, the last thing I would wish
is another emblem of grit and continuance;
still, my willow models a fierce,
therapeutic rage, lashing the glass
in a keening that leaves it chastened,
getting on with it: nesting crows
on overload can’t navigate the sky,
so unbalanced is their greed;
worms drenched by immoderate rains
are rinsed out onto the walk to begin
the humbling crawl homeward.
Even the sky: winded, aloft. Even
my heart: of a sudden, I can’t
breathe deeply enough of the season’s
Time to be taken
alive, to be shaken, to wrench new space
from inside the implacable givens.
My passport lies, unexpired, in a drawer.
On the far side of the world, wine
ripens at the source, rising on terraced
hillsides broken by stately silhouettes
of ruin. All of it lit. Raw.
Ringing. And between us, only a great
generosity of sky.
that, on my day of departure, turns
a dire tornado-green above
the terminal—flights delayed up and down
the board. And fear, newest entry
in grief’s cast of thousands, rehearses
her lines. Too late; I have
my role by heart—a walk-on part:
to find the gate that bears my number
and wait for the sky to open.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.