A small comfort to know you already have lips,
eyelashes, a bellybutton, a way of taking
coffee; already have friends, ticket stubs, scars,
a favorite book, a least favorite book, lovers, although
I do not yet know your name. A small comfort to know you
have a name although I have never yet said hello
to your hello, held your hands in my hands. And
it is delicious to imagine you have a mountain
you like to climb – that perhaps you sit at the summit
as I am doing now, on my mountain, and you rest
your chin on your knee, watching the valley shiver like
a yellow sea of leaves. You have already wept.
And sorrowed. And mourned. As I have wept.
And sorrowed. And mourned. What have you
lost? What are you going to lose?
Are you are worried I do not exist? Let me
assure you, I exist. I exist. Let me find comfort
in the word you even if you have not yet arrived to fill it.
Loop of snake. Flax
drupe of a hawk
on the white cedar’s
longest arm. Two
dance traces again
and again the bow
of infinity in the humid air.
I thought I would love
once, twice, precise
as a comet’s rare
streak across the heavens
in a human lifetime.
But here I am, dawn-struck,
my heart wasn’t saved or whole,
but made to be split open
like the milkweed pod,
Dove feather and locust leaf. Purple
veined Catalpa tongue. Two fawns,
faces soft as the pussy willow, stream
down the hill, flow a circle around
my still morning breath, the exhale
half uncurled from my sunburned lips.
Lately, the coffee has been strong, the friends
plentiful as maple keys spinning on the breeze,
my heart has been like a stone in the river
of my body, dividing the waters. My heart
has become an island of yellow willows, Japanese
primroses vibrant as phosphines in the rushes,
kingfishers blinking in and out of existence
as they pierce the mist-thickened dawn.
Gratitude is a word for something
that has no word. I am not merely grateful.
I am. I am. I am.
In bed, lying straight as a candle flame
that comes to attention between cupped
hands, I watch through my windows the Pleiades
sweep clean the sky with their urgent light.
Sleep won’t come. The dream is too awake
in me, won’t let me close my eyes.
I do not want to miss this. It will be quiet
as the spider’s song. Dew articulating the web.
Blue thread of the hummingbird’s flight
drawn as a warp through the wind’s weft:
that is the sky. It will be high and clean
as a lace of ice on the cloud’s spine.
There will be light. A sign. And then
maybe I’ll disappear. Turn to steam. Or
finally sleep. As you listen and repeat
back to me. Hello. I know. Then my name.
Foolish to try and escape the state, even
here, alongside this basin filled with
the terminal coil of the Esopus
river. Almost immediately the sirens
sounded, and we were pulled back
by an invisible string – call it duty,
call it betrayal of self, call it self –
to where the cops stood like navy liths
on the stone shelf where the parking
lot hovers above the reservoir. And
the ticket is a green I’ve only ever
seen in a cat’s eye. The faces of the cops
are a red I’ve only ever seen on a cop’s
face. It’s a violation of property, they
say: our walking along the water. And
just then, right on time, the bald
eagle sweeps overhead, screams once
shredding her mute symbol
to say: what is violence, what is property?
Sophie Strand is a poet, historical-fiction writer, and essayist based in the Hudson Valley with a focus on the intersection of spirituality and ecology. She has three books: Love Song to a Blue God (Oread Press) and Those Other Flowers to Come (Dancing Girl Press) and The Approach (The Swan). sophiestrand.com
You can connect with Sophie live at a four-part webinar hosted by SAND:
The Wandering, Winding Way of the Wound
With Bayo Akomolafe, Sophie Strand, Tyson Yunkaporta, and Vanessa Andreotti
October 19–22, 2022 8–10:30am PDT
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