what kind of woman does such things

illustration of lilacs, an albatross with spoons inside, crickets, in black, green and purple hues, with a slender moon on top
Art by Kristina Closs

Some Nights

by Kate Baer

Some nights she walks out to the
driveway where the lilacs blooms and
lies down on the warm pavement even
though the neighbors will see and wonder
what kind of woman does such things.

There she stares up at the slender moon
and thinks about the baby albatross filled
with discarded spoons or the time a friend
asked what she was working on these days
and she answered, “Who has the time?”
even though she meant something else
entirely.

Across the lawn the crickets sing while the
earth lets out its tired breath and wanders
through the trees to greet her.

from What Kind of Woman

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.

All around me the thousand small denials of the day.

Illustration by Kristina Closs

“Alone” by Philip Levine (1928-2015)

Sunset, and the olive grove flames
on the far hill. We descend
into the lunging shadows
of goat grass, and the air

deepens like smoke.
You were behind me, but when I turned
there was the wrangling of crows
and the long grass rising in the wind

and the swelling tips of grain
turning to water under a black sky.
All around me the thousand
small denials of the day

rose like insects to the flaming
of an old truth, someone alone
following a broken trail of stones
toward the deep and starless river.