To see is to believe.
To long is to hope.
Teach me to hope
for what I cannot yet behold.
Before the telescope revealed
behind the dark curtain of space—
already those stars
So break me open in your hands—
pomegranate, bruised apricot—
And breathe into me
at breakneck speed—
down the precipitous slope.
In another city,
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,
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.
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
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
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—
allows them to lie shoulder to shoulder
in the round belly of the earth
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
Or, if nothing else remains, I want to be
that faint flame—cupped
in your hands—coaxed
to life with your breath.
It’s the first steps
that matter most—
the bud on the twig,
not the flower,
the nearly imperceptible
shadow on the grass
before the heel lifts
off the springy soil.
See on the wall next
to the entryway door,
the small beakful
of mud and twig
that clings to the wall
like soil to a rootball—
that twig and tiny portion
of mud, not yet a nest
but still more than clay and twig,
and no longer without life.