Poem apologizing to Gwendolyn Brooks

responding to the line “graves grown no green that you can use”

 from “To the Young who Want to Die”


            I tried to prove
                        you wrong—fashion
green into epitaph, pick the cemetery’s
                        every dandelion, sever
            every mane with thumbnail tip,
                        flick the yellow toward
the sun and make a bouquet of
the left stems—the fuzzy green
of thin bent cylinders its own headline
                        breaking, my hands
            dusted with news and
flowersap. I tried not
                        to remember: both the ash
            scattered free from urn and the bookshelf’s
dust were both once body—
                        the dermis: semi-disposable, but the body
            persevering even separate from itself. I try
to imagine myself a ripe fruit
                        only able to grow further when
plucked—displaced seed. But as I am prone
to do I’m forcing the metaphor—
            choosing an unneeded coffin. I do
not need the headstone,
                        the fresh green plot. Not yet. Neither
do I need the stubborn that holds
            to my hands like rich dirt. I didn’t
                        want to stay 
until I did—your words holding
my quaked hand and slowing
                                    its penchant for dangerous
            shimmer; I am the spring
                                           and hate the spring—
but only sometimes now. Less and less,
                        as the grave grows its own green
that I do not need, 
                        and I let it be
                                                            as far away—I do not
            seek to find its uses. The trees
keep gifting
                        their oxygen and I
            find one under which
to sit. I rest,
                        yes, as I have longed for, 
                                                                        but I rest
            and keep my breath (both): slowed with no wish
to stop. I am learning. I stay, and
breathe—Sit down. Inhale. Exhale—and wait. And stay.
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