There is a hymn called
“I Love All Beauteous Things.”
I love all things that manage
to emerge from the ruckus
of that fateful race of sperm to egg
of the petty bigotry of mass media.
And while the tritone
has found respectability,
the lowly blobfish
remains a face only a mother could love.
Which is a start, and no small thing.
I made a brief list of sounds along this path,
the least of which is the crickle the dirt makes
as the sun lands on it.
There are tiny birds who flickle
from branch to branch saying “Psst! Psst!”
and teasingly disappear from sight.
You’ll miss the slow beewing hum
if you walk too fast or heavily.
The list of sounds I love has grown shorter
as my list of years accomplished grows.
Silence tops the list,
followed in no particular order by
susurrations of wind
and the chimes and trees it disturbs,
water in tricklets or waves,
voices twined in sacred and vulgar song.
I sometimes wish for synesthesia
so I could understand if my new fondness for the color blue
is because it sounds like all those things.
I woke at 2 AM with a word.
It was such a good word,
I knew I would remember it.
It began with C.
It had something to do with
How we will all line up
at Heaven’s gate.
nothing so obvious.
Vanished in the tumult of waking.
It’s often still but never quiet
on our flat water,
as a busy road girdles the mountain nearby.
A different kind of stillness
overpowers the engines
once oars are in hand,
a stillness that drowns out
chatter and nonsense
and every thought except “move this boat.”
Distractions are for those caught
in the monotony of 6 AM taillights.
On the water, every motion requires
for every stroke is different
and demands adjustment
of arms, legs, buttocks, shoulders,
the subtle twist of a wrist.
From the shore
every stroke looks identical,
every rower in perfect synch.
On the water,
Inside each woman is a riot
a hundred refinements of muscles
large and small.
The stillness of control
lets us hear, between breaths, the water run bubbling
under our boat.
Ssshhhh. The coxswain is speaking.
Heading on past the cliffs
Where hopping ravens make their nests,
I pass the bewildered willets
And the mated duck pair with
Their stubbornly remaining child.
I spot as a likely site
A slight indent in the cliff,
Out of the wind and out of eyeshot.
I discover a seep there,
Festooned with little flowers,
And I like the play on words.
Squatting, I notice a tiny skull,
And then my eyes allow that
This is the site of a long past
When I saved that ladybug
From encroaching wavelets,
I placed him on a rock, clearly
Out of danger.
Then my eyes were allowed to see
100 dead ladybugs
All around me.
“Someday you will own a houseplant you cannot kill.”
It is too soon to say,
but last year
someone gave me a thorny, vicious SOB of a plant.
It thrives near my workspace
and demands very little of me.
So-called “indirect sunlight” suits it.
Infrequent watering doesn’t faze it.
I have placed the more delicate orchid nearby
in hopes they will make a pact
to shame me into caring for them.
And it is thus I am childless and dogless
by choice, not accident.