Flora

Anticipating
the trip, I take
a mental tour
of an unseen landscape.
Fact:
84% of New Zealand flora
are endemic. Isolated
among volcanoes,
like an artist sketching
impossible petals,
the filaments and sepals
emerged and twined, transformed
into pōhutukawa,
the kiwi Christmas tree,
colonizer of lava fields;
rewarewa, the honeysuckle,
its nectar sweet and smokey;
and Tane Mahuta, oldest
and largest kauri tree,
stretching skyward even
before the first Maori set
foot upon the soil.

It’s a trick…

This mild October day
tugging people from their homes
to take breakfast on outdoor
patios. Frost and wind chill
hide behind half gold leaves
waiting to bite our bare arms
and sockless feet.
Beware this perfect blue sky
empty as a Midwest swimming
pool in March. Sleet and snow
loiter above its clever mural
mocking our sudden exhuberance.
Pumpkins leer from every shopfront
their teeth sharp as icicles.

Return

Drifting
on a boat
between
Harbor Springs
and DuSable,
blue, always blue,
perhaps some silver
and white, and at night,
only the lights from other boats,
and the glow of the distant shoreline
like a watchful line of lightening bugs,
hovering close but unable to help him steer.
What does he think about, surrounded by space,
unbound from routine, unobliged to be connected
by cell phone
or wifi?
What does he ponder, suspended for a brief span
from the normal rules? Of course, I am certain,
he is thinking of me.

Mackinac 100

Dawn finds you, invisible lake,
though fog of last night’s storm
would deny your existence.
Like floating tufts of fur from
an old grey cat, slowly morning
thins your coat: a strand here,
a strand there, until small right
triangles emerge, hundreds of tiny
white flags waving in a line,
their thoughts bent entirely toward
that island,
and the hundreds of miles of water
and wind,
and the will needed to tame you.

Evolutionary logic

If it’s all about sex,
finding a fertile mate,
maximizing reproduction,
or so says evolutionary
psychology, then what
space remains for love?
Why do we crave it? What
purpose can it serve,
except to make us weep
and sigh and write poetry
and jump from bridges. Or
is love just sex under-
cover, dressing up to fool
us with its fake moustache,
a pair of dark sunglasses,
sneaking into our dreams as
a raindrop or a fountain or
endless blue water by a beach,
or yellow fish on a reef.
All simply our animal lust
for pleasure? A drive for
offspring to prove our
existence? Tell me then
science, why love? Why
pain and despair? Take them
back, I say, until humanity
evolves to a higher state,
in another million years.

No bright line

I was young once: I wanted
Fancy clothes and designer
Shoes and the perfect leather
Bag. I dined and traveled and
“Did” the museums – most
On the company’s dime.

I waited for my husband
To love me again; I waited
To fall again in love with him.
I waited for him to find
Someone else – and he did.

But I am only 35 you say?
The line between young and old
Is not so clear. Now I want only
The things of “old age.”

To wake up in the morning
Next to a man I love.
To watch the cat chase sunshine
Across a room. To see the sails
Or the whitecaps or the ice
Upon the water and by this
Know winter or summer. To hear
Birds and dogs and children
Playing. To see an old man
Feed squirrels in the park.

To go to bed at night knowing
I’ve accomplished some small
Thing – repotted a plant or cooked
A meal or written a poem.
My greatest worry? Those
overdue library books.

I was young once,
but I am done with that.

I spy… a raindrop

Rain can be invisible in the city;
Twenty stories up, it is colorless

Against the gray sky, gray lake.
One infers the rain from the air’s

Heaviness or the sounds of water
Spraying off car tires in the street.

Buildings cloak the rain so completely
That I long to see proof of its falling.

I descend, sit in a window, watch the puddles
Form at intersections, each raindrop sparkling

Briefly on impact under fluorescent bulbs.
Soon the pavement sprouts lakes and tributaries

And human frogs hopping from isthmus
To island to curb, and I am reassured –

Nature has not vanished, only chosen
To work secretly in occupied territory.