Everything lets go
in the end. The mortar
in the brick. The love song 
of the finch
come fall. 

Everything lets go 
in the end, the spinning 
of the top, the last drops of rain, 
even the skin of the molting snake.

My dog jumped into the Middle Fork
of the Gila River
and reached for tiny minnows—
Out they swam between his teeth
and back into the stream. Everything
lets go, trickles down, heaves itself
into the ground. The motion
of the celestial spheres pauses each evening
for the stargazers, the knot in the wood, 
the amber pearl of sap hardened 
against the rough bark of the tree. 
The thread lets go of the needle, the comb 
releases the hair, the flame 
absolves the wick. The lightning bolt, 
and then the silence. Think of Jesus, his hand 
washing Judas’ foot one moment, 
and then he let it go.

Like Galileo, he knew the world stops spinning
when love catches you off guard.

To see is to believe.
To long is to hope.
Teach me to hope
for what I cannot yet behold.
Remember Galileo:
Before the telescope revealed 
bright lights 
behind the dark curtain of space—
already those stars 
had overpowered
the dark.

So break me open in your hands—
pomegranate, bruised apricot—
seed me.
And breathe into me
the force 
that powers 
canyon floodwaters
at breakneck speed—
singing—
down the precipitous slope.

In another city, 
another home,
I once swept the floor
for Mother Teresa. 
She slept in that room 
the following night, 
and in the morning 
after she had left, 
a brother swept the room.
In the dustpan,
one hair. 

I opened the thesaurus
and then I realized that hope
is just another word for hunger
and that—although I appease it 
with the sweetest fruit
of the jungle, still, 
like the cat at my ankle, 
it will beg for more.

Yucca, rootbound porcupine,
stands at attention.
What are you guarding
with your green quills
straight as bayonets?
Did you ambush the juniper
with the camouflage needles?
You creep across the canyon
without tanks, refuel on sunlight.

Your fruit swells with the summer rain.

Clandestine plant,
you emerge unexpectedly
between sandstone rocks flecked with lichens
copious as the spots on a young cougar.

What secret do you oversee?
When the nocturnal moth emerges 
from rosettes coated with pollen,
do you stand at ease?

No wind ruffles
your stiff leaves 
as you stand sentry.

The infant wants milk, love, a lap, a lock 
of your hair, the glitter from the lake, 
even the moon. The child wants
a friend, a fort, time to play. The youth seeks
to divide and conquer, climb, achieve, win,
subjugate, wills to power and overpower, 
even to exert the power 
and influence to reject and scorn.

But then one day, whether by choice or force,
the adult releases, accepts, empowers
others.

Let my bones be a bridge, my hair
the buttresses in a nest, my dreams
wings for the creatures that fly. 
Let my words be the ripples
that resonate in the pond
and then, more thinly, more
obliquely, in the air,
though I have no breath.

Aloft, they perch along the nest rim—
no longer nestlings,
nor yet fledglings.
For several weeks, their parents 
have fed them, beak to beak,
swooping on blue-black wings
to siphon insects from the air, winged 
insects so small I cannot see 
them.

Hope, penned Emily Dickinson, is the thing 
with feathers that perches in the soul. 
But even so, hope is also the last egg 
cradled in the nest, displaced only yesterday—
though its nest mates are nearly fledged now—
and cracked open on the tiled step:

The ants made short work
of its golden yolk.

In a cult, we all hold the same beliefs
or risk expulsion.
In a community, we work
together to find a solution,
despite diverging opinions,
and always hope to reconcile
with each other
when we start
to drift apart

Whatever’s happening in the world,
I know my yard is a community
where neither the stray cat
nor the lizard 
can disentangle themselves
from their mutual obligations
and appetites, and yet,
the choreography of the dance—
between movements—
allows them to lie shoulder to shoulder
in the round belly of the earth
at last.

It’s spring and the river ice
cracks—
and whose to say—
if you could hear it—
that it’s not unlike the sound
of nest building
as the twig snaps.

I once thought love is the mightiest
word but now I think perhaps the mightiest word
is hope. Oh, we love so freely, and with abandon. 
We are so prodigal with our love. But hope 
is the stubborn fortitude of the bud 
holding on through frost and ice. 
It’s the steadfastness of tree roots 
carrying nutrients to the trunk and branches
of the tree, though its bark and branches 
are already alight with lightning strike
or forest fire. 

Oh, I want to be a vessel for the sap.
I want to be a seed 
in the sharecropper’s hand.
I want to be the jellied eggs 
of the spadefoot toad
there tucked in the shaded patch 
of the puddle, and waiting—
in this drought-stricken land—waiting for
thunderclap.

Or, if nothing else remains, I want to be
that faint flame—cupped 
in your hands—coaxed
to life with your breath.