Palm Puddle

Dying of thirst, a ladybug
drinks from a small bead of water
cradled in my upturned palm.

Winter has lingered late this year,
with spring hiding still somewhere
under the heavy mounds of snow.

Today the sun, shining full
and warm into the garden room,
coaxed this tiny creature out

of hiding. What secret crevice
harbored it in hibernation
all this time? When it landed

on the desk beside me, I thought,
“what can I feed it?” having no
juicy young aphids at the ready.

Life lasts longer without food
than without water—that I knew,
pouring this drop into my palm.

I placed the ladybug nearby
and watched her slow approach, her legs
tickling my skin; they stiffened

(with excitement?) when she reached
the water’s edge. We plan our lives,
juggle our special days; and yet,

sometimes the remembered moments
arrive unbidden, come flying
at us out of the cracks—quenching
a universal thirst, like this one.

Tea with a Friend

She told me she was dying and I knew,
no matter what I answered in return,
my careful words could never change what’s true:
that, highest intellect to lowly fern,
each one of us is dying every day.
We who must stay behind to carry on—
to sleep, to rise, to eat, to work, to pray—
unnumbered years from now will all be gone.
The hordes of mayflies flitting in the sun
were born to perish after nuptial flights,
while lives of giant tortoises can run
beyond a thousand full-moon-measured nights.
Which of us, too weak, who seemed so strong,
will die too soon while others live too long?