Green tips of tulips are rising out of the earth—
you don’t flense a whale or fire at beer cans
in an arroyo but catch the budding
tips of pear branches and wonder what
it’s like to live along a purling edge of spring.
Jefferson once tried to assemble a mastodon
skeleton on the White House floor but,
with pieces missing, failed to sequence the bones;
when the last speaker of a language dies,
a hue vanishes from the spectrum of visible light.
Last night, you sped past revolving and flashing
red, blue, and white lights along the road—
a wildfire in the dark; though no one
you knew was taken in the midnight ambulance,
an arrow struck a bull’s-eye and quivered
in its shaft: one minute gratitude rises
like water from an underground lake;
another, dissolution gnaws from a black center.
Previously published in Ploughshares.