COUNTING EVERY PETAL
The ground is finally bare, the snow
vanished into it as if it had not
smothered the world for months.
It might wrap its shroud around us
again. We celebrated the first snow,
counted ourselves lucky to cower
under blizzards but by the 14th
storm we are simply bored.
Now I search flower beds for green
steeples rising, even for weeds,
anything that grows. Starving
deer nibble rhododendron leaves.
Mother with two fawns at dawn’s
breaking. I stay quiet, watching.
Every day I count birds at feeders.
A pair of robins is an omen.
When I lived a year in San Francisco,
I missed spring, as if without pain
there could be no pleasure. Winter
makes the first crocus a celebration.
THE MONOTONOUS BIRD
High in the green rooms
of the sugar maple a strange
bird calls, calls, calls. Does
he/she seek a mate? Lost,
maybe from the South, since
it’s new to me who all spring
and summer know the words
spoken by bayberry warbler,
tohee, robin, brown thrasher,
catbird, oriole, wren.
What does it want, crying
insistent as a leaky faucet
hidden by the tiers of wide
flat leaves? What good
would identifying do could
I spy it, Peterson in hand?
It would still passionately
want what it’s not getting.
I hear my younger self
in its fierce cry of hunger.
How many years and grey
rooms I haunted seeking
a return of love, affairs
tearing flimsy in my avid
hands. Give me, give
was my cry repetitive
and dismal. How tedious.
How forlorn. I should have
more patience with this
Mother told me when I was little
that the small depression under
my nose and above my lips
was the fingerprint of an angel.
She said when a baby’s curled
in the womb, it knows every
thing before and after, which
is why babies don’t want
to be born. But the angel makes
us forget. Otherwise we’d never
willingly enter this chaos, this
maelstrom of trouble and pain.
Of course we cried to exit that warm
safe place where all we need
was given us while we rocked,
richer than we’d ever be again.
I wonder what it was I knew
then – I wonder.
Copyright 2019 Marge Piercy
Box 1473, Wellfleet MA 02667
Marge Piercy has written 17 novels including The New York Times Bestseller Gone To Soldiers; the National Bestsellers Braided Lives and The Longings of Women; the classics Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She and It; and most recently Sex Wars. Among her 19 volumes of poetry the most recently published include The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems 1980-2010, and Made in Detroit. Her critically acclaimed memoir is Sleeping with Cats. Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes.