1. Give and Receive

Earth emits its own warmth—
microbial and musky.

A dark rift erodes
in the snow’s underside.

Water trickles into soil
that gives of itself.

2. Lilac Leaves

A thousand small green spades,
poise to dig up memory.

If I succumb,
what would I become?

3. Daffodils in February

You taunt me with April,
and my thoughts turn to
reckless, impatient love.

4. The Prevailing Westerlies

Soon after a flood recedes,
or the trembling roar of disaster subsides,
life proceeds at whatever pace
it requires.

We have no defense
against the humble drip of persistence.

Only from a distance can we perceive
the 10-degree bend
in great forests of resistance,
shaped by the gentle motion
of air.

5. A Matter of Degree

On this road
besieged with salt-wash,
the future fades to beige.
Low clouds ripple into the horizon,
indistinguishable from mountains.

Ice, like marble waterfalls,
and trees.
Flocked in snow-mist and salt,
it wallpaper the hillsides.

Later, at the museum,
I study Mary’s face.
How the angle of her brow,
the languid flagging of her eyes and lids,
and the sag in her cheeks,
by just a few degrees,
freeze her in sorrow.
Her grown son
an open wound across her lap.

6. Happiness

Their house filled
with dither and din,
misheard repetition,
and misrepresentation,

as if they were on
some plaintive search
for a key

she remembered hers,
—buried deep in her pocketbook—
and he reclaimed his
—from the right-hand corner of the mantle—

just where they put it (for safekeeping)
every day for the past 65 years.

7. Agave

Some college girl
intently colors in
the lines of a butterfly.
Her ear buds channel music,
obscuring our train’s whistle.

Fueled by heavy rain,
muddy ruts puddle in.
Hardly March, spring erupts in this valley.
Cows bow their heads
to the luxuriant meadow.

A few palm trees, awkward but majestic,
form a conduit connecting
low clouds to ground,
but without a hint of lightning
from the heavens.

Because I'm from the East,
I don't know the succulent
sprawled like a gangly bicolored green octopus—
an untamed beast,
up and overflowing the embankment.

Approaching the next station,
I fumble for the intimate shorthand
of naming things.