Two Poems

River and Fugue

All afternoon
I have sat
in the middle
of the river,
disrupting the animals
who live in it and come
to resemble it:
river otter made
of its same
long muscle,
blue heron wings
taking after the sky.
And the deer
in dun grass.
How long
has she turned
her quiet head
to fix my sight?
Now she runs,
and here I still am.
Everything ascends
the wood thrush song.
Slant light climbs
from the piled hay;
my daughter is growing
this way:
most of time
is midafternoon,
this moment
becoming that
moment becoming this,
and she’s changed
as a small cloud,
illuminated, cumulus,
completed as it moves.
Just so, she keeps
the company
of everything.
The fireflies blink.
They are weighted
by nothing, but want
gravity more
than they want
the moon,
which shines anyway
with borrowed light
that I take
as proof
of wealth
or delight.


Week Ten: Plum


My body, which has never died,
has two hearts again today,
and how many
inside the second?

This body, which has been planted
in ears and kidneys,
fingers and formed lungs, a person almost
the size of a plum, unbecome,

her own seed already in her.
This body, which is two bodies
and a thousand more in either
direction of time—the wake of the present—

has died ten thousand times, planted
as it is in the mud
where the plum must grow,
planted as it is in the dew.


The moon may never have been a plum.
Look at her, having
dropped the dark robe of her skin;
you would not know it.


I tell the collared dove: I am sown
—a body inside a body—for the rain to soak.
I carry her father, and his mother, and hers.

The field adores the seed, affords
the farmer, who frets, a task.
Every flower faces away.

I’m looking for what they watch.
The path through the field
leads to nothing but the field.

The dove calls three syllables:
all morning, compassion,
my daughter, all the night.


My own cells, planted by my father
and my mother who breathed
for me for some time.

the sun was their bodies
before it was mine,
was the bread and the fish

their parents ate, and the steel
and the ash. Who took
the bread and the fish?

I can’t remember any of it.

If joy is watching a person bear
a pitcher of water across the field
where you are working,

if happiness is drinking it,
then I will watch the leaves, who watch
the sun go without flinching,

while my own heart opens and closes
the shutters
of my ribs every time.

More from Leah Naomi Green