After My Mother’s Death:

they grow under
and between things,

in sunny fields, in damp
meadows and marshes, along boggy
streams—“bright-eyed floweret

“of the brook,
Hope’s gentle gem”
Coleridge called them—

each wheel with its little sun-spokes,
its toothless gear
of pollen; carrying

on where they may,
as if delighting
in themselves; a scent

like wisteria
blossoms, antithesis
to sorrow, while

the memory of the mother self-
sows, while the past
becomes a border

of rampant blue, a mine-
field of small but true
blue flowers.

Pink Crape Myrtle

You can approach it
from every angle—the blossoming
tree, the showy burst

of pink-laced, see-through
sky-dapple, the web of slender
branches, ruffled tips.

You can listen for the shushing
sound the branches make

as wind rushes through, fresh
from the sloughs, the mud
and silver ditches, fingers of river;
or you can hear

the ocean’s breath in it,
or a soul’s fluid pouring forth
from the body like sacred oil.

You can curl under its sheen
in an afternoon hour, tune
in to the furious a capriccio

singing (as if for its very life!)
a house finch commences
among the crinkled panicles—
or you might

focus instead on the bare
winter tree, a prison of branches,
the way the stripped limbs

will float on far
into spring, insistent, refusing to break
into blossom with the rest

—so late, so almost
out of place among the frilled trumpets,
juicy cups, gaudy perfumes.

2015 String Poet Third Place

Some Say

death appears as a fruit tree in full blossom and the dying
one runs toward it—toward that rootless

impossible fragrance. Maybe that’s how it was for you, and
now you’re inside the tree’s gilded

skin, tree of everlasting light, and the fruits burn like
deathless bulbs of loquat or persimmon.

We thought talk was a lantern but then it got darker, no
moon, nothing but the sound of our breathing

and the fires fading out. Still, I’m going to say that you’ve
drawn the woven embers of sunlight up

around you, tucked them under your freshly shaved chin—
that the river runs beside your good right foot,

and the sugars you stored are forever.