At dawn the stars swallow back their hard glitter
which emerges in birdsong, the ironwood trees
crackling with sound
as the heat of the day drags its shawl through the air,
and the birds go silent in sunlight, sunlight
which tears open the dandelion,
the fragile, doomed world a huge pot,
we constantly fracture and glue together again.
To smell the creosote plant, cup your hands
around a branch of blossoms, breathe into it,
it breathes back at you its sharp and musty scent.
Bees through the heliotrope, a blue surround,
a durable sound, how does anyone ever
stay present for long.
A cactus thorn in my foot, get the tweezers,
pull there, no, damnit, there
the leathery flap of the crow crosses, recrosses
your body, my body with his shadow, not doomed, are we?
yellow pollen between the fingertips
feels midway between air and dust
the rooms we thickly people and unpeople,
desires we lug around, lay out, fold up and zip shut.
The flowers sniffed and praised, picked, queried
to the last petal, pressed and tossed.
Helen Wickes lives in Oakland, California. Her first book of poems, In Search of Landscape, was published in 2007 by Sixteen Rivers Press.