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).
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.
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.
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…
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.