It isn’t ever delicate to live.

Dear readers,

I shared this Kay Ryan (1945-) poem in a missive to friends (some of you who are reading this again) earlier this month and wanted to post it here on the last day of 2022. As I wrote in that correspondence, it isn’t ever delicate to live, but it feels especially less-delicate these days, like we keep spinning our intricate webs as forces around us try to pull them down.

For me the only way forward is to think of what helps my inner arachnid build and rebuild, of what keeps the ropes strong, of what posts I can hang onto, of what inspires me to keep spinning the threads despite it all. There is, of course, labor involved, but this is the work that makes the heavy work lighter to bear.

Sharing poems with all of you is definitely one of those buoying, bolstering forces. Thank you for reading what I shared during National Poetry Month this year. I hope the threads of your life are holding up okay, and that in 2023 you find–and create–support and joy in this delicate web we’re all spinning together.

Art by Kristina Closs

Spiderweb 

From other
angles the
fibers look
fragile, but
not from the
spider’s, always
hauling coarse
ropes, hitching
lines to the
best posts
possible. It’s
heavy work
everyplace,
fighting sag,
winching up
give. It
isn’t ever
delicate
to live.

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California is burning & already the woods where I first learned to love you have withered

an illustration of blurry fire-y mountains with two people in astronaut suits floating above the charred landscape, connected by a red thread
Art by Kristina Closs

Mt. Diablo

by Jacques J. Rancourt

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.

Then rise when you’re ready from your soul’s hard floor

illustration of a bee on a windowsill
Art by Kristina Closs

BEE ON A SILL 

by Tracy K. Smith (1972-)

Submits to its own weight, 
the bulb of itself too full, 

too weak or too wise
to lift and go. 

And something blunt in me
remembers the old charade 

about putting a thing out 
of its misery. For it? For me? 

Sleep, Bee, deep and easy. 
Hive, heave, give, grieve. 

Then rise when you’re ready
from your soul’s hard floor

to sweet work 
or some war.