by Mark Levine

Mark Levine

Okay, willow, breathe on me
from the sunless opening in you
crescent of gouges and breezes-slope
on which beetles stumble and are
fushed out

Traffic, human traffic with its rinse
of promises and pauses is coming
for keeps.
And look there goes a swallow transplanting soil.
Me (let me think it)
I can sit on this bench longer than nature
and not know or crave a thing
about this bench, bottle cap dented into its plank

and initials scratched beside it, beside
the point: two raw letters forward to back just
as rare as any combination.
And now the date, plume of digits, daily

This is behavior, willow, this
drone, it accompanied you once
in your grove of which
you have a memory-a lush one-don't you?
Was there no breath of you there?

I crossed the arc of your silhouette and lapped
your leaves's signature.
Things grew from you
beneath you in the patched grass
and not tar away sat a man on
a bench.

You take it in or you don't.
You hide the sky or else.
Things lived in you.
You, stranger.

Last updated February 19, 2023