In the haggard at the side of the house
where apple trees no longer grow,
clusters of old-fashioned daffodils,
their tattered petals yellow as egg yolk.
A prayer catches my throat
and I offer it to the woman
– ‘cause ‘twas surely a woman –
who took time to plant these bulbs
between feeding, milking, caring,
cleaning, scrubbing, birthing, rearing
and putting the dinner up
for the men coming in from the fields
and I offer it too to another woman in an African village,
who plants orange marigolds in a dented oil can.
THE FLUID BRUSH OF DEATH
As soon as my back was turned
death slipped into the day.
What if I hadn’t worn that blue dress,
painted the back door yellow
rather than that shade of beige,
made lentil soup for lunch
instead of tossing a green salad,
stayed home and finished
reading The Red Tent
and not walked out to Tawin
to see the seals
(who, by the way, weren’t there,
they already knew
and swam out to meet you in the bay).
If I could play out
the minutes and the hours
of that day differently,
would you still be here?
Here we are in that evening.
Your breath slips into the out tide,
wracks back and forth on brown seaweeds.
You loosen your holdfast
and let oarweed row you out
beyond the rocks.
Buoyant, you push back clouds
and blaze the sky with your sinking sun.