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Contemporary Patterns in a Historical Context

All about the botanical garden California               pipevine swallowtails swish heavily

through air. Their blue is the blue               of early morning, their weight

physical yet only felt               in distances, as in

won't they just stay still                long enough

that you might get a closer look               at the sharp spread detail of wing

through the viewfinder               of your high-power camera

though you must know                no image can evoke

the sensation their movement              awakens: turn

instead to California wild lilac, the Banksia               so strange in its tubular lurch

toward sun,                 the delicate brush-strokes               

of Douglas Iris peeking from the shade                of colossal Calla lilies,

so mammoth they dwarf               even your human form,

the cartoon hearts               of the marbled western wild ginger & you,

geographically & historically located,                clutching at your outline while


all about the botanical garden butterflies               sift through shadow

& drafts of sun,                 their willowy wending, their cosmic               

sylphlike grace—                 to imagine god

is to lose oneself in the movement of something               other,

something more transigent                 than you, and I do,               

but only long enough                 to dislocate

my rigid, landlocked                 heart & hammer              

at boarded doors: give me more, give me more—


This poem was featured in Meadow Residency’s Summer Field Guide 2018.