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.
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.
Thank you kindly for following along for another April of verse. I want to close this month with one of my favorite poems, written by the brilliant Ross Gay (1974-).
I realize many of the works I selected this month (and for years prior) may seem a little dark at times. But I love this poem so much because it speaks to my most hopeful self, the self that believes so fervently that amidst all this darkness there is so much life and light to be grateful for–not the least of which are beautiful words and all of you for taking the time to appreciate them alongside me.
“Sorrow is Not My Name”
—after Gwendolyn Brooks
No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked up, and,
after arranging that good suit of feathers
he up and took off.
Just like that. And to boot,
there are, on this planet alone, something like two
million naturally occurring sweet things,
some with names so generous as to kick
the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,
stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks
at the market. Think of that. The long night,
the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me
on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.
But look; my niece is running through a field
calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel
and at the end of my block is a basketball court.
I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.