Our Lives Have Stood
and the birds are hiding in the flowers.
They’re sheltering in place, in my trees.
We too, sing from our branches and nests,
long for cherries and corn, for summer’s sun
filled fruits. Emily Dickinson wrote a lot about birds,
I know, because they were her constant company.
She planted flowers, watched them grow, pressed them
into books. One line of poetry after another,
discovering God in the grass, death in the mouths
of bees. Just like her, we stand like loaded guns,
ready at any moment to be deadly, or dead.
We don’t know each other anymore. We have
become strangers to God and death. Our skin
crawls at even the thought of touch. We wash
our hands so much they’ve become older than the rest
of us. The news talks of a happier future. I hope
yes, that we will build a world kinder, cleaner, better
that we can weave from solitude and seeds.
But we will not pretend this never happened. 100,000 dead,
just in our country. Were we asleep? Afraid?
We cannot cleanse this from our memories, we cannot
stop the death tolls from rising. We pray, we sleep,
we wake to more dead underground. We hope
we will not ourselves go under. Our lives have stood,
Emily. Because we could not stop for death.
Outside the robin sings at midnight.