to know joy once
no matter how brief
is to hold
a fragile bird
in your hand
let its tiny talons
prick your fingertips
as if it wants to 
carry you with it
a coal-capped tit caged
only by the ribs
of this forest
dark and open 
and cavernous 
canopy dappled light shafts
let it take you through
the understory
feel joy
let it show you
what is at stake
(its claw won’t draw blood)

Researchers Have Engineered-Out the Natural Dispersion of Crop Seeds

Today, only weeds shatter, exploding
with dispersing energy to propagate wildly.

You shatter in ways that ring your face 
like bloodshot raccoon eyes.

Mascara is not for shattering days.
Sweats, cap, & running shoes are.

You pound root-laden trails—escaping
pavement & rage of thought—

& come back, lungs refreshed, flesh 
fertile for seeds the wind throws.

Sometimes shattering is good in a meadow.
Pasture grass needs the turgor pressure

to blast the abscission zone like fireworks:
glitter chrysanthemum, peony, timerain—

these pyrotechnics of the field need not be 
stored at cool temperature & stable pressure.

But you should be kept that way, me too,
always maintaining a controlled atmosphere.

Someday I’ll shatter & you’ll be there
to catch some seeds in your hair

to root deep & you’ll wait til next year
for the wild wonder of green & yellow

undulating in spring meadows,
neglecting the order of plowed rows,

& the oohs & ahhs of my uncoiling,
multiplying a hundred—no, a thousand—fold. 

A Day So Happy
	after Czesław Miłosz

The remnants of last night’s dinner & wine woke me:
truffle sauce over pasta, white wine followed by Burgundy. 

My head spins with the reminder that I might be hungover
& I’m eager to rinse the tang of my skin in lavender soap

while rosemary-mint shampoo suds open my eyes, my pores.
It will be an olfactory day—my ol’ factory is working overtime.

I know the toast is ready when I smell its bronzed nooks—
not when it pops—& the coffee sends my good morning

through octaves of thank-yous to the sun kissing the mountains
awake, like I kiss my children alive from their wilted pajamas— 

traces of yesterday’s tennis & dance lessons, toothpaste & retainers.
Soon we’re all a blend of spearmint & soap & hair wax &

I walk out the front door to a blast of ice-capped air
& bathe in the mountain scent of empty.

Prodigal Garden Pruner 

November’s yellow leaves still hang / like sloppy rags / black locust buds spear / this Sunday. / My rain boots collect mud / & shiny leaves as I inventory / popping bulbs breaking the mulch. / Poking up in random spots / where our children buried them last June / wilted in their pots: crocus, / jack-in-the-pulpit, grape hyacinth, / varietal tulips, & ever-eager yellow daffodil. / I walk—no, I strut— / through flowering foliage, / a fool who does not prune, / or sculpt ambitious branches. / My ash & oak sketch / charcoal lines above a green brushstroke / of grass on the grey canvas / of this morning’s mist. / The buds’ tiny faces, / pink silk or lemony green, / reach into the fog / imploring the sun to warm us. / Neighbors with perfect gardens / pray for me in a chilly church, / stained-glass martyrs, their only joy. / & here, I plod in my unruly Eden / content to let God do His own work / feeling blessed to let God do His own work.

About the author:

Cathy Wittmeyer hosts the Word to Action poetry retreat in the Alps. She has many poets to thank for showing her the way into poems. Her work has appeared in SuperpresentTangled Locks Journal and Book of Matches among others. She is an engineer, lawyer, mom and poet from Western New York. See more at cathywittmeyer.com

Feature image by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash