For mosquitoes, whose long, delicate legs
dance in air to the hum
of high-frequency wingbeats, the ring
of redwoods on the hill by the lake
is cathedral enough.

And the sugarstick feeding on humus
on the forest floor–its single
erect stem rising from earth,
striped red and white like a candy cane–
has all it will ever need to know of Christmas.

In low trees, male cicadas create their own choir
by vibrating membranes near the base
of their abdomens, and in oblong, glossy leaves,
madrone leaf miners make
their own rich veins of silver.

The striped bass are quite satisfied
with pits they’ve made for spawning
in the shallow southern end of the lake.
These craters are the closest
they will ever get to the moon.

And the Western tanager high in a pine–
red head, yellow body,
black tail and wings–singing “pit-ik”
in a hoarse voice, appears
to be content with its own beauty.

I’m a creature too, with disc-shaped
red blood cells lacking nuclei
but packed with hemoglobin to pick up
oxygen in the capillaries
of alveoli clumped in my lungs.

I breathe carbon dioxide into the forest,
where oak leaves and redwood needles
turn it to sugar, but my skull
is a cauldron of yearning.
Nothing is ever enough, certainly not

my ability to describe the Indian pinks,
their scarlet petals divided
into four broad lobes with rounded tips,
or checkerspot butterflies, lighting
now on the shining leaves of the yerba santa.

Lucy Day lives in Oakland, California. Her recent poetry
collections–INFINITIES, WILD ONE, and FIRE IN THE GARDEN–are available from INFINITIES contains many poems inspired by outings with Michael Ellis. Lucy is director of the Hall of Health, a museum in Berkeley, and
founder/publisher of Scarlet Tanager Books



Posted on

August 6, 2009