now there is brown earth under my fingernails

As we wrap up National Poetry Month, here is my second to last (one more tomorrow!) poem, a sensual celebration of spring, of our love of the earth and for each another by the one and only Audre Lorde (1934-1992).

illustration of a tomato
Art by Kristina Closs

“Sowing”

It is the sink of the afternoon
the children asleep or weary.
I have finished planting the tomatoes
in this brief sun after four days of rain
now there is brown earth under my fingernails
And sun full on my skin
with my head thick as honey
the tips of my fingers are stinging
from the rich earth
but more so from the lack of your body
I have been to this place before
where blood seething commanded
my fingers fresh from the earth
dream of plowing a furrow
whose name should be you.

from The Selected Works of Audre Lorde

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There is a time for everything.

Dear readers,

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.

ross-gay

“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.

—for Walter Aikens

We are a human patch of dandelions

I found this Bill Holm (1943-2009) poem when I was browsing at the magical Poets House in New York last summer and am just as arrested by it this afternoon as I was months ago…

bill-holm

“Spring Again”

Why this anger at grass or pigweed
or aphids killing honeysuckle?
This is just what happens in the world.
It’s us who fertilize our own
miseries and love them.
We are a human patch of dandelions,
each yellow flower mumbling:
one more war, one more of those
presidents and then we’ll stop.
Every drink is the drunk’s last one,
then the next one, and the next one,
and we all know it, whatever
public lies we tell each other
while bending our heads to the hoe.