Under the cherry trees we visit
the last week of every April,
come by train and foot to celebrate
the renewal of the years,
under blossoms bombing
bodies that grow more quiet
but no less ebullient in their celebration,
Addie rests her snowy chin across my shin,
sighs and settles her sumptuous snout
into a nap. If I didn’t know better,
I’d think a visitor from the sun
had placed his hand there,
and that his warmth was telling me
something I should know.
In turn, I too close my eyes,
return to the earth, place my hand
on the marvel of her knee,
and palm the beauty of the joint,
asking it to wait ten-thousand days
before it hurts again. Again
warmth passes; the circle completes.
And this, the transference of fealty,
not words, is the language we use
when we talk to each other
on either side of sleep.
Midlife: Too Early for an Ars Poetica
after Czeslaw Milosz
The purpose is, oh purpose was,
if poetry had one and it went down like a tonic
for the ache of living in these bodies
that fall from women into the earth,
goodbye slick wombs of grace,
how effortless to say something,
how difficult to live it
the houses we are in poems in art
in the shedding of selves in being oneself
open open open
come in, don’t mind
the draft and dung,
the deed says “all who happen through”
and the doors have no locks
and the hinges have no doors
and soon the walls are breaking apart
into trees, oh ancient forest.
The wind has fingers—
they pry at your zippers,
your pockets, your pores.
Ricky Ray was born in Florida and educated at Columbia University. His recent work can be found in The American Scholar (blog), Matador Review, Fugue, Lodestone, Sixfold and Chorus: A Literary Mixtape. His awards include the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize and Katexic’s Cormac McCarthy prize. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, three cats and a dog; the bed is frequently overcrowded.