pressed against the forehead of night     
purring in their own language,      
a system I couldn’t crack.    
Dusk with its desperate colors of erasure,       
battered blue, wine-flushed.    
The wind whispers a secret     
to the long-haired maples,    
something dark and puzzling.     
Squirrels in the live oaks
and wingbeats shuddering the treetops    
become a kind of song      
that swims up out of the past.       

In spite of everything, the stars     
shimmer in the distance;     
the moon comes out to stare,   
stark, unsettling.     
Fireflies pulse in the woods       
like a heart beating
to the rhythm of      
We are here, yes, we are still here.  

There is a brief, startling moment   
when I fly out of myself,  
forget the impossible weight of being human,  
become a thick black fist    
tilting on one wing,   
knowing the sweet kinship of rising,    
unraveling the sky.                

All night I hear voices 
clear as a country lake, pure, bottomless:
Listen, this song is for you.
Try to remember    
you are a descendant of    
the whirling cosmos and water.
At a crossroads, I meet the dead,   
the old griefs harbored in my chest   
ike a thick chunk of fat.     
I feel homesick waves.  

Poured out like a bucket of wild berries,  
I come back to my body,   
willing to remember  
I am becoming a holy place,     
wreathing myself in the living fire.
I want to taste the sweetness,     
unfold into a world of reverie,   
feasting on darkness but needing light,    
slowly curling myself back into
a vessel of tenderness
traveling toward incandescence.    

*Cento of lines/phrases from Edward Hirsch’s collection Living Fire