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.