Somewhere other than here we
all said yes to the question Will you
go back again Yes See the broad
nose of the bull pawing at dirt for being
so dense Yes There’s the rider who next
time will be born a bull There’s the frantic
calf alone in the pen with no way out the rider
with his precision and his rope his fringe
slapping leather who Yes next time will be born
a bull The tranquil horse breathes steady in his
stall who Yes in the next life he might
not know what to do with his own freedom
How to Turn Into a Mountain
Begin. Turn your face into a peak,
the kind of peak passengers
see on the descent and think: Ahh, yes.
There is my mountain. Spread your
skirts far and wide. Love other mountains
with the whole of your body and only
your body. Pull the hardest parts
down deep into your center.
Pack it in, one trouble on top of the next
until things stratify and give way and fold in
upon themselves. Petrify dinosaur bones.
Sing constantly. Lead pine trees and boulders
through stairwell to your room while the others
sleep. Let the heat build. Wake to the applause
of deciduous trees. You'll feel a melting in your
belly. Matter will wash away. Things will begin
to expose themselves. Let the years of rain and
grit get to you. Let children be the first to find
fossils. There could be diamonds. There could be
dynamite. It's best to know these things.
Eventually, there will be a wave that says,
Relax. Or, Push. Or, Explode. The animals
will have taken leave. There's no use in anything but
surrender. You only have to learn this once.
Once, tossing catfish in flour, you told me
the difference is that the Eucharist
and wine are god and the church
is a manmade stack of limestone cubes
with some disintegrating mortar holding it
After you died, you were both
here and not. You were there in the
clink of the chalice on the chain,
the puff of flour settling on the cutting
board, in an albescent flag iris rising
from under unseasonal snow.
A grain farmer, friend of my father’s, died
once, drowned on chaff in a silo of wheat,
and came back. He said it feels like
putting on a pair of muddy overalls,
rustling back in that old body before dawn,
cold floor, frozen door lock, chores to do.
I Let Her Out Into the Growing Light
Round she goes in the grass crisp with frost.
Her breath a nebula, her mind, an imploding
galaxy in reverse. At age two, each moment
becomes a permanent protostar: The roughness
of the cat’s tongue. The taste of butter
licked from a plate. The scent of the fat
mushroom on an Aspen stump. She hears her
sister sing songs, then sings.
She opens her hand and presents a gift:
a pill bug makes its way to the tip of her finger,
Warmth as From a Hearth
after Antonio Machado's poem "Last Night as I was Sleeping"
So this is what the heart
feels like at middle age.
It is a moonless night.
Opposite from here
people rise, brighten,
move through streets.
The day-moon carries on
Here, the faint
reflection of the naked
broadleaf in the rain barrel—
MARY HARPIN is a poet, freelance content marketing writer and the Director of Research Initiatives at Pen Parentis. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Creek Review, Juked, Terrain, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. She is at work on a nonfiction project about the lives of writers who are also parents. Read more at maryharpin.com.