Pearls & Swine We sold our precious goods and refined our gold with dross to make power moves. We took a word that used to mean something beautiful, mixed it with flavors of hatred and hubris – so that, now, the word does not mean what it used to anymore. To destroy an idea, you don’t have to hold the opposite view, just mix it with contraries, wait a bit, and soon you will forget what you meant in the first place. We used to say love your neighbor, now we say make your money. We used to say care for each other. Now we say to hell with you, the world must go on, but what we accomplish in this numbing march, who can say. Words evaporate into the air on our breath, in fog, carrying identity and universe on whispered syllables. Some are made of chalk, and this is how I think of hate. Curls of anger to wipe away, a stream of positional phrases to wash away. But words, they also move, chameleonic, into the architecture of print, ink quill, blinking screen, ideas made more permanent. And this is why we practice. An anchor of sound that takes root in the soil of an open page, implanted firmly in the mind, a notion that builds. I move words, I love them, sometimes I erase them and regret it. I have learned not to throw them away, as one would old junk mail or harvested detritus. The way a word can turn the world — spoken, written, sang, offered in praise or in slicing critique, resonates an unmeasured sense of power, speaks again to the strength of a reading and writing community. Figments What started as a fingernail was formed into a half-sliver of moon by the tellers of tales. From a leg bone grew a fearsome giant, an entire mythological system. It was a tree trunk the whole time. This is how it always begins. Someone who seems soft as gossamer, revealing rows and rows of gossip. A simple event in the day is retold until it grows legs, wings, horns – attacks a small village. The story is stowed around until it no longer resembles the original, the narrative unwinds. A lie becomes a cage, but who’s confined, it’s hard to make out for sure. Heron I wish you could have been there to see the large bird go flapping through the trees. I think it was a heron, but it might have been a stork or any number of oversized creatures with wings. It was not a bat. Your father would probably know. In any case, I watched as it caught the air, first a circle back, and then angling into a nearby hiding place, perching beyond sight, masterfully dodging forest. I suppose a direct path of flight was not possible, but you came out the door seconds after it was gone, leaving only butterflies to behold. The heron, as it turns out, is an image of persistence and wisdom, as we arrive in this new stage of the journey. There is Summer in my soul today. Tomorrow is May. Grief will not hide long. Even as numbers rise, and leaders storm away, clouded, I find a world in pausing. A gentle unthawing of months of freezing, a tundra in my mind warming slowly. The earth revolves and resolves, a lingering pain from months of loss, unknowing yet to come. Some move on, some linger, some haunt, some cling to the numbers, while others do not believe a word of it. I begin to bud, but also take stock of my growing thorns.