The tongue is a wad of flesh. It turns
The soul into words. Our souls crowd
Around the tongue, seeking to
Reveal themselves. Seeds that were plowed
Under push at the soil, tendrils
Seek the hollow spaces between
The soil, they burst through there,
They seek the air of the ravine,
If not for the soil, no tendril would ever
Grow, the soil holds back the grass,
The tree, because the soil itself is rich,
Allows the mountain and crevasse.
Everything feels right, everything
Feels complete, moths drink the tears
Of sleeping birds, bears roam through
Labrador, but even they are in arrears
To the sun, to its quarks, to the photons streaming
Through dark space, to its boiling core,
To its coiling corona, to the bee that licks
Turtles’ tears, to the lichen spore,
The tickets to the museum of your own
Elaborate thoughts, give them away,
After all, you own a forest, an orchard,
And a cavern with streaks of radium decay,
In the evening, the sunlight is mauve,
The sea is shadow, the air seeps
Across the city, balconies, poplars,
Muslin curtains blow, the baby sleeps.
Sometimes, one act can destroy
What a thousand thoughts and feelings
Cannot repair. The air is filled
Weeping, fires smudge the ceilings,
Weasels lick their wounds, children
Are born, photographs burn, dreams
Messages, trout die in streams,
Or a single thought may repair
A thousand destructions, a light
Goes on, you see the creatures lumber
And clumsily fight, their hide is white
And red, a path can be redeemed,
A blighted grapevine, yellow and spotted,
Your fingers twitch, you pull, you want
To see all of the tangles unknotted,
Sometimes one thought is more
Of a blessing than a thousand acts,
The air is soaked with vapor, the geyser
Bubbles, you long for cataracts,
The facts are as they are, the light
Has changed, a glowing from the west,
Candles flicker, silent spaces of stars,
Fear and longing clear and unexpressed.
Sometimes a single act destroys
What a thousand plans and feelings can’t
Repair. (Oh my! All those years
Of therapy, of meditative chant!)
And sometimes one thought, thrown
Backwards in time, repairs (at least
In yourself) a thousand smoking homes,
It kills the skulking, smoking beast.
The air is full of lights, it
Is charged with electric storms.
The bees are buzzing amidst the trumpet
Vines, at night, weightless swarms
Of fireflies flash and disappear.
The artist paints a flower, then praises
The flower. Within its fractal petals,
A series of orange flowers blazes.
There is a pool, the pool has a source,
The water sings, a waterfall,
Then rapids, the froth scintillating,
Across the current, silver glimmers sprawl.
When the lights are alive, northern
Lights in sweeping green folds,
Sparked into life by the sun,
In storms of purples and golds,
Lights that prickle, lights that glint,
Lights of the forests, of the park,
Lights of the tundra, lights that
Inspire throat singing. The dark
Siberian pine contains a healing
Sap, the day and evening blend,
Light and life intertwine, with
The name of God, from beginning to end.
The light produces glucose in
The leaves, it glows upon the gray
Lizard’s back, spiders raise
Their legs to the wind-splayed way.
When the sun shines, every baobab
Tree is free, another limb
Of a single earth, neurons snuggle
In the brain, and in the dim
Morning light, four rivers flow
Before four palaces, the sunlight
Pulses and the streams of photons
Flick the cave front of the troglodyte.
The cloud cover draped upon
The ridge of hills. There was
Fog upon the streets, from a
Transformer a persistent buzz,
Everything was one, a praying
Mantis in a speckled skin,
The morning damp scent, the flag,
The plinking of a mandolin.
You feel joy or longing, you see
A sapphire stone beneath a throne,
You see all that water from a single
Well, you hear one undertone,
One baobab tree along the road,
One sun, if the root would be
Untwined, it would spread into fractal
Multitude, spraying debris.
The massive lemurs lumber in
Your mind, they lead to honey
Comb that drips on the stone,
And your nerves are spacious and sunny.
Yaacov David Shulman