The only real work is to become grass
and grip spindly birches for balance
down a steep bank, to take pictures of ferns,
leaves a rich green, lace-like, dreaming,
condensed out of the spring air, rather than
pushing up through the wet debris of earth.
Fronds press like the open hands
of small women on the rough sides of fallen trees,
their leaves ridged with thin veins
like the tracery of fingerprints.
On my knees, I lift one to see the different,
paler green of the underside and then touch
with a finger the secret joining
where the smaller stems branch.
This feels like a valuable intimacy.
But I disappoint myself, becoming soon bored
with beauty, and drift to the edge of the river,
gray under the day’s clouds. Tough, ordinary grass
blows and rustles beside the water.
Nondescript twigs cross and rub together
on leafless bushes I can’t identify.
The river keeps flowing past.
It is that kind of world. No metaphor,
here at some distance from the ferns --
the grass is grass, the twigs
are twigs, and crows in the distance
gloat over some death they have discovered.
(Yes, it is essential to note death.
And the ferns were not really dreaming --
those organic engines for burning leaf rot.)
I lie lost, watching grass, for I don’t know how long.
on my belly, the coolness of dirt seeping in,
the wind and water moving.
Grass will grow through my hands.