Buried Seed Organs
Densely packed, pull-pins ready
to burst into beauty come spring,
or hearts ready for transplant,
hearts of little moisture.
Grief is contained here.
A crinium lily bulb can weigh 15 lbs.
One dormant heart at a time.
Mark Doty said Whitman’s thin membrane
with the world, his exultant song of Beingness,
was a body of water moving in the water
like a jellyfish
like a process the water is performing.
How to find such floating brightness?
I dreamed of empty frames where words should be
like billboards along the roads of my thinking.
I wanted to go home, and the letters had fallen off.
I picked them up, pressed them back into place to spell
themselves a meaning, but they wouldn’t stick, moving
away from each other and from me, not winging
into their usual shapes.
I gasped awake.
My grandfather couldn’t read or write, had no
architecture of post and lintel letters in his head,
no L-shaped joists, no sentences pulling trains of words.
He’d ask how school was going,
was I working hard enough?
My grandmother and her daughters were the guardians
of all writing— letters, birthday cards, entries
in the Bible, recipes kept in a flour-crusted
(and a few poems
written or memorized
there was that
there was something)
All of them in the ground now.
Am I working hard enough?
Today an e-mail from someone
I don’t know about a poem I wrote.
He carries it with him to remind himself
hope is not a passive thing but a challenge
He wants to say thank-you and perhaps
no one has ever responded
to me directly about the poem?
Indeed, no one has responded
to the poem.
In general, no one responds,
but I won’t tell him this or
that I forgot I wrote the poem.
My bulb-digging tool makes holes
six inches deep. I make a row
of empty places.
His note is a small thing,
yet the only thing.
Who I was started to disappear along the edges of myself at first until I was a meld of common good, and after some years, unrecognizable to my past, I took walks alone in the foothills, but not really alone because I could still hear them calling me back to the work there was so much of, the gardens, the kitchen, the many loaves, the voices well-intentioned, filled with purpose and multi-headed benevolence, all of them having settled into me and built nests, beautiful intricacies of feeling flying in and out and landing there, and I couldn’t close off (I mean, who would want to?) or form a word that wasn’t (I realized later) realized by them and made into so much eloquent flesh. Not a word of my own because who was I unless gathered into them with them in the name of one hundred fifty or more and to think of what emanated from us, most especially from us, our mission of radiance into the troubled world sadly ignorant of how things were? And who knew if the love we felt was love or just the tight weather of togetherness, the commitments we made to each other to keep from wanting too much or making something of ourselves or going out and finding a job somewhere when the job we were doing right where we were was so much greater we told ourselves and sang to ourselves and fell into bed dead tired at night dreaming to ourselves?
But if I walked far enough into the hills, the tethered tenor of their voices barely sifted through the ponderosa fragrant with summer’s heat, showering yellow pollen on me and the path in front of me, and I found my two hands again, found wild calypso orchids, rubbed dirt from arrowheads pointing north away or south doing the same with my thumbs.
A wide, sun-filled stream, lower Montana or maybe
the northern corner of Wyoming, not sure where
I stopped and saw how smooth flowing and slow it was,
how quiet and clear, no one around, no one on the road
above, how golden the light inside the water, dream
of Eve, the morning of my first day, and so stripped and
immersed myself and floated there, my hair suspended
in a rippling circle around my head, my body carried
as vessel of essential self, gentled, cooled and emptied
of worry there, bright blown egg, weightless luminaria.
Linda Aldrich's third collection of poetry, Ballast,
was published in 2021. She lives in Portland, Maine.