Why paint night over nightless day?
Every religion has Love
but Love has no religion.
Love is an ocean–
no borders, no shores.
Drown there and you won’t lament it.
The drowned have no regrets.
California is burning & already the woods
where I first learned to love you
have withered, grayed. Last year
when fires rimmed the perimeter
of our city, we followed
in their wake, hiking
the underside of Mt. Diablo,
& what was left by then already
blackened to polish, to mythic ash.
At dusk we took a picture,
but our phones couldn’t register
the lights of our distant city, so we stand smiling
before a black backdrop. A year ago
I barely knew you & now I picture
all the ways I could lose you—
what virions might already be
multiplying in your cells; what truck,
running an intersection, might barrel
over yours; what I might say
if I only had one sentence to say it.
Metaphor will be the first to go.
To walk through the moon’s sea,
I told you on that hike, might look
like this—this burnt mountainside,
this Pompeiian aftermath,
lacquered to veneer. How here
we, like two astronauts, bob.
How here we, like two satans, patrol
the outer ring of hell’s topography.
How I will love you through
prize & peril. Some Scheherazade
I’ve become, some Persephone,
telling you lies, yarn
after yarn, to keep you alive.
by Maggie Smith
Why does this written doe bound
through these written woods?
My handwriting is all over these woods.
No, my handwriting is these woods,
each tree a half-print, half-cursive scrawl,
each loop a limb. My house is somewhere
here, & I have scribbled myself inside it.
What is home but a book we write, then
read again & again, each time dog-earing
different pages. In the morning I wake
in time to pencil the sun high. How
fragile it is, the world—I almost wrote
the word but caught myself. Either one
could be erased. In these written woods,
branches smudge around me whenever
I take a deep breath. Still, written fawns
lie in the written sunlight that dapples
their backs. What is home but a passage
I’m writing & underlining every time I read it.