A redwood’s circles won’t reveal its rise
from loam to pungent, shadowy girth.
Names, dates, lines score a doorframe
but aren’t lives.
Map, territory, the correspondence between.
Our bodies dimly resemble who we were.
If I’d known you when you were ten,
would I know how to comfort you better now?
Where we’ve been, a patchwork of recall.
What we’ve been through, equally vague.
This urge to brand myself with an outline of your hands on my thigh.
What remains if you die before me?
Ants for All Seasons
The summer scourge canvassed the countertop.
Without apparent schedule,
haphazard black lines,
a pitched battle with vacuums,
bulwarks of diatomaceous earth,
weeks of truce, then sudden onslaughts
declaring the power of the collective small.
Despite temperatures in the teens,
stragglers cross the kitchen floor,
lost pilgrims in a cold, flat land.
In tunnels below,
their brethren raise the young,
guard the queen.
A man walks Antarctica,
drags a sled,
aims to set a record,
while his wife cheers him on
on a satellite phone
from a Manhattan apartment.
To forgo the familiar,
trudge inhospitable landscapes,
risk exposure, demise.
Bravery, mania, instinct?
Desperation is another possibility,
though these ants wind leisurely
as if taking in sights and smells.
Under ice, water
flashes like silver fish
Rocks, fallen trees,
the river remakes itself.
loses original form,
its ashes coalesce into
root and stone.
(Image: René Magritte’s La Victoire (The Victory), 1939)