In essence

i. Immortelle

I stumble across you in vacant lots and along railroad tracks, growing in the most deprived soil.
You invite me in between warm weeds and stone, insisting on companionship.

In the background a slight bandage scent lurks.

ii. Eucalytpus

I withstand your camphor-singed diatribes, even embrace the sting
of germicidal properties; you mean to rejuvenate.

But when stripped and extracted, your therapeutic effect evaporates.

iii. Bergamot

I meet you in Reggio di Calabria suspended along a narcissus cactus.

Breathing thin air, I meditate quietly on Mount Etna,
your cold-pressed skin alive beside me.

In just months, your harvest will end, and bitter citrus will fill your veins.

iv. Lavender

I follow you to the Haute Provence of southern France, carried by your spice-tanged air.
Undaunted by intense heat, you will spread thick panicles and stretch your floral spikes.

Still, I will pluck with gentle hands to assure your return next year.

v. Hyssop

I find you in the Bible eleven times, cleansed blue as lapis lazuli, as forgiven sins
washed up along the Mediterranean into Dioscordes’ wine.

Even when close enough to hold, you are sliding through my fingers.


-After Wistawa Szymborska

He made himself a glass violin so he could see what music looks like,
the shrill voice of two strings echoing.
Windows open,
dried leaves a hurly-burly of mustard and rust,

only a lucky few hurl through open shutters

Breathless pause, fingers wrap over bow, one by one,
recalling a rhythm,
a frantic breeding of hands and arms,
seizure of taut lips, swollen chords

that spill over the floorboards of the small-den-turned-great-hall
in a rhythmic dialogue
between the wailing of a newborn
whose wet lips open to a suction of cold air and stretched fingertips,

and the intoxicating moan of a mother who cannot see
but sweat-soaked sheets over quivering legs,
though she listens, can hear and hear and hear
a panicked, undulating vibrato,

a voice never heard before in this little room

where so many voices have played before.