Spring comes early and completely to the South.
So many forget-me-nots, with their white centers,
scattered, you’d say, if there weren’t
so many everywhere, as many as the stars
last night in between the branches
on the porch in the side yard next to the house.
Was it an argument or were there just
things they had to say?
I could have faith in so many creatures—
the old setter from the neighbor yard
who follows me around the corner
and no longer, the chick with its new beak
just past breakable whose lighter topfeathers
have a bit of flight, any mother bear—
you say things and the next day
it’s like they don’t matter, we want our faces
to alter though we don’t want to get older, neither
do we want to get younger, repetition
with less knowledge is ridiculous,
just ask the Greeks, you get to keep
being a tree but without the branch
that showed the sky your starlike shape?
I don’t think so. Steadiness can be useful,
but my loyalty loves a form
that will follow me through changes.
At a diagonal the dark woods
on the backslope have enough space
to walk between, not enough to hide.
He looks into them
and writes notes to his mother, she
looks into them and finds alignment,
or looks for what she wants.
She has a human skeleton on her desk.
He has a protractor. I had wishes
for both of them yesterday
but the weather has since become so kindly,
so temperate, I forget what blessings
they don’t think they have.
I am a guest in this house. I didn’t go inside
until I heard the ending of the argument.
Katie Peterson is the author of This One Tree (2006) and Permission (forthcoming 2014), both published by New Issues Poetry and Prose. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Radcliffe, and Yaddo. She is currently Professor of the Practice of Poetry at Tufts University. She received a doctorate in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She was born in California.
Homepage illustration via Wikipedia by Philippe de Champaigne