Sink Your Fingers into the Darkness of My Fur

by Ellen Bass

Up until this sore minute, you could turn the key, pivot away.

But mine is the only medicine now

wherever you go or follow.

The past is so far away, but it flickers,

then cleaves the night. The bones

of the past splinter between our teeth.

This is our life, love. Why did I think

it would be anything less than too much

of everything? I know you remember that cheap motel

on the coast where we drank red wine,

the sea flashing its gold scales as sun

soaked our skin. You said, This must be

what people mean when they say

I could die now. Now

we’re so much closer

to death than we were then. Who isn’t crushed,

stubbed out beneath a clumsy heel?

Who hasn’t stood at the open window,

sleepless, for the solace of the damp air?

I had to get old to carry both buckets

yoked on my shoulders. Sweet

and bitter waters I drink from.

Let me know you, ox you.

I want your scent in my hair.

I want your jokes.

Hang your kisses on all my branches, please.

Sink your fingers into the darkness of my fur.

Unacknowledged Pollinators

by Fady Joudah

“If you were a star,” you said, “you’d be called Forgive me.
To which I smiled (you couldn’t see me) and said,
“Or Forgive me not.”

You said “Beware the ides of March on days we’re distant
from bees and flowers.”

“Not if the bees in the mouth don’t sting,” I said,
“and the air we move is a monk’s in a meditative year.”

“Are we the plants or the particles,
the planets or the elements?” you asked,
“and our touchless touching, vector-dependent sex,

and the honey mouth, are they
the silences that waggle the tune
on our foraging routes?”

“When I say honey,” I clarified,
“I’m asking you whose pollen you contain.
We’re no snowflake symmetry

yet to each pollen grain its aperture:
porous, colpate, yet blanketing the earth
as crystals might, and light isn’t refused.”

“And when I say honey,” you said
“I grip my sweetness on your life,
on stigma and anthophile,

and the soporific folded on its synchronous river
that doesn’t intend to dissect my paradise.”

“O captive my captive, we lost and what did love gain,”
I asked, “I haven’t fallen from where I haven’t been,
or exited what I didn’t enter.”

“Seen or unseen,” you said, “I’ll live in your mouth.
We have an extra room. The children like it there,
mead in it their stories and playdough.”

“As if a child is the cosmic dust that made me,
and I’m the suffix, its -ide.”

“And within that child a child.”
“And within that another.”