Smoke Trees and Mountain Ash
Because I never learned the names of flowering trees,
they all seem ornamental, with tiny hard fruit
that softens with the frost. Then the birds can eat.
Seeds scatter, form new plants bred to please the eye,
not for juice or sweetness. If a vine’s not pruned
it begins to strangle the tree on which it climbs.
My grandma is a flapper, thin, with pale gray eyes,
different from my dark ones. In this tintype, I see her
in a stippled scarf tied around bobbed hair.
She holds an alto sax, never wants children.
Grandpa proposes after only weeks of courting.
She takes him to the porch swing under yellow lights.
The air drips with wisteria. Witch hazels in the distance
and wolf-eye trees nearby stare as she twists his arm,
then closely checks his skin for tell-tale blood lines.
Fertilizer: A Sonnet
She plows the furrows, pushes past her wants.
Can she imagine rows and columns, summed
on spreadsheets as the basis for her work?
Or, does she dig down to her ballet class,
dance to Tchaikovsky all in lacy-white tulle
stitched with plastic violets for the Waltz?
She isn’t graceful, but she moves with joy,
forgets herself, and driven to succeed,
puts gashes in the ground, and the manure
comes with the strain of overtime, and yet,
beneath the stony ground, each seed still sheds
its coat. The rootlets reach for sustenance.
The weak shoots seek the sun, and bidden or
unbidden, here, new blades of palest green.
A Brief History of My Life as a Coyote
I’m not cóyotl, the Aztec trickster,
the death decliner who succeeds
through failure and holds the way
open between the worlds.
I come from that original deceiver,
Prometheus the clever, who got caught.
He paid with pain and regeneration.
Disposing of the dead is a necessary
unpleasantness. Raven and I are free
to wheel about the earth and sky.
We create when we destroy.
We are the bringers of fire.