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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