from "Letters to Elena" (Grassblade Light, ch. 2). sort of an orphic credo.


A child playing in muddy Paradise.
Lost in the mudpies there between her legs.
Where a word is a profile, and a dog's
cocked ear is the letter J, sideways –

or upside-down. Your birthday
every day, under the clean azure U:
no harm shall befall you,
says the fortune cookie

oracle. In the shadow of a little tree
it all comes back to me – you too.
This balm, this grief, these nettles,
this rue – light lives and heavy

dyings – as though we were all coracles
of hide and willow branches, all sails,
all canvas – from earliest first
bells, launched – infant disciples

summoned to swim toward the shy
vortex of the shadiest voice.
To carry the freight of despairs
toward... how can I say it?

One almond eye. Noah's canoe –
lashed forever to your own eyelashes
in the morning mirror. Hush.
A curving ellipse will show

how the crown of child's play becomes you.
Wear it (your diadem) in truth –
while buried root and blossom both
from the muddy earth are borne anew.


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