after William Stafford
Honey-bees point their co-workers toward food,
dancing to show which way to fly, and for how long.
Sometimes you can forget how to speak,
if you pass your days in silence.
An old man from Mexico with Alzheimer’s
was shot dead by a cop in California
who assumed that he was armed. In fact,
the object in his pocket was a wooden crucifix.
A sunflower’s face is made of hundreds
of tiny flowerets inside the disk.
When Tranströmer’s right hand was paralyzed by a stroke,
he taught himself to play piano with the left.
The people who built Stonehenge and other Neolithic
monuments and tombs were most likely teenagers.
Less than 60 years after the first manned aircraft flew
for just three seconds, astronauts were orbiting the earth.
The human eye relaxes when gazing at distant objects
in the landscape, and finds the color green most restful.
After being temporarily blinded in a factory accident,
John Muir went on a thousand-mile walk.
When my heart stops, I do not want to be
resuscitated. I want to close the door quietly, and go.
Finback whale-speech travels further than that of any
other mammal: a hundred miles underwater, maybe more.
Ice has an entire sonic repertoire—it can sound
like explosions or gunshots, or music from another world.
Once, at nineteen, I stopped a man
on the street to ask if he had the time.
No,” he replied. “But I have
the record of its passing.”
It was a gray day, on a grimy street
in a small provincial town.
I was on my way to the dentist,
fretting I might be late.
He was an older man,
in a suit of some kind,
a little formal, but not memorable–
tweed, or perhaps a trench coat.
I never did learn the time.
I have never forgotten.
I mention this in the same way
certain things loom out at you
when you’re on a bike
and pedaling hard, focused,
and afterwards all you remember
are instants, imprinted:
a killdeer on the shoulder, feigning a broken wing,
or a hillside covered in clover,
or the small, round hole in the road
that could have thrown you.