Yvonne Higgins Leach

Quickening

 

Earth stretches

 

her tight skin,

 

                                    giving permission

 

to the thaw, the planting,

 

the red tulips

 

                                    that now open

 

like mouths, exposing their centers.

 

 

I, too, gave permission.

 

                        Now my skin

 

bulges from the life

 

rooted to mine.

 

 

As I tug

 

at the roots of prickly weeds,

 

the robins

 

                        circulate among the trees.

 

The flowering plum

 

dances when the rain

 

                                    nudges its petals.

 

 

I am the earth

 

in her birth month,

 

                                    in the knees of spring,

 

in her particulars

 

of forsythia that create a chorus

 

                                                on branches,

 

of hyacinth stems

 

in lengthening repetition,

 

                                    of halos of dew.

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with Catastrophe

 

Landscaped with food—
a forest of salad,
tributaries of pasta noodles,
steaks on plates like hills—
the table shifts slightly.

 

The baby shoves bread into her mouth.
Pouring cloudy wine into the wells of our glasses,
my father toasts to our communion.
The soft-lit chandelier splashes
stars on the ceiling.
Glass rims clink, fragile as thin ice.

 

Then the radio news breaks in:

 

Earthquake
San Francisco
Evening rush hour
The two-tiered Nimitz Freeway collapses

 

The baby squirms.
I quiet her with a cucumber slice,
kiss her forehead.
We tell what we heard
over a jazz ensemble,
return to steaks and wine
and a general conversation about earthquakes,
the only way we know how:
about Richter scales
and Uncle Pat, who was a seismologist.
All the while ignoring the truth
of the San Andreas Fault stretching
her stiff bones.

Yvonne Higgins Leach

 

 

 

 

 

 

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