I could see the points on the flower’s stately crown soften and curl inward

The poetry and prose of Ross Gay (1974-) so often reminds me of all the beauty and joy in this intense world we navigate every day.

Art by Kristina Closs

“Wedding Poem”

for Keith and Jen

Friends I am here to modestly report
seeing in an orchard
in my town
a goldfinch kissing
a sunflower
again and again
dangling upside down
by its tiny claws
steadying itself by snapping open
like an old-timey fan
its wings
again and again,
until, swooning, it tumbled off
and swooped back to the very same perch,
where the sunflower curled its giant
swirling of seeds
around the bird and leaned back
to admire the soft wind
nudging the bird’s plumage,
and friends I could see
the points on the flower’s stately crown
soften and curl inward
as it almost indiscernibly lifted
the food of its body
to the bird’s nuzzling mouth
whose fervor
I could hear from
oh 20 or 30 feet away
and see from the tiny hulls
that sailed from their
good racket,
which good racket, I have to say
was making me blush,
and rock up on my tippy-toes,
and just barely purse my lips
with what I realize now
was being, simply, glad,
which such love,
if we let it,
makes us feel.

from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

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All day wondering if I’ve become useless

illustration of an osprey carrying sticks in the air
Art by Kristina Closs

“Brocade”

by Jane Hirshfield

All day wondering
if I’ve become useless.

All day the osprey
white and black,
carrying
big dry sticks without leaves.

Late, I say to my pride,

You think you’re the feathered part
of this don’t you?

Holiest are those who eat alone.

I love this poem by the incredible writer, Cathy Park Hong (1976-), whose 2020 essay collection Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning is probably the book I reccomended most last year and urge you to all to read.

a watercolor painting of a hummingbird
Watercolor by Kristina Closs

“A Wreath of Hummingbirds”

I suffer a different kind of loneliness.
From the antique ringtones of singing
wrens, crying babies, and ballad medleys,
my ears have turned
to brass.

They resurrect a thousand extinct birds,
Emus, dodos, and shelducks, though some,
like the cerulean glaucous macaw,
could not survive the snow. How heavily
they roost on trees in raw twilight.

I will not admire those birds,
not when my dull head throbs, I am plagued
by sorrow, a green hummingbird eats
   me alive
with its stinging needle beak.

Then I meet you. Our courtship is fierce
in a prudish city that scorns our love,
as if the ancient laws of miscegenation
are still in place. I am afraid
I will infect you

after a virus clogs the gift economy:
booming etrade of flintlock guns sag.
Status updates flip from we are all
connected to we are exiles.
What bullshit

when in that same prudish city,
they have one exact word to describe
   the shades
of their sorrow, when they always
   sit together
and eat noodles during white days
of rain, in one long table,
though not all.

As a boy, my father used to trap
little brown sparrows, bury them in
   hot coal,
and slowly eat the charred birds alone
in the green fields, no sounds,
no brothers in sight.

Holiest are those who eat alone.
Do not hurt them, do not push them,
   insult them,
do not even stare at them, leave
them to eat alone, in peace.