Why I Was Late for Our Meeting

“Your head is a living forest full of songbirds.” — e.e. cummings

I was held up by irises
that demanded I stop
to look closely — I didn’t think
you’d mind, the surprise
of yellow and blush of pink,
so distinct from the blue ones
I’m tracking in our tiny garden
by the driveway.

But there’s more:
I stopped at the Cushman Store
for an iced latte before our call,
and bumped into a man I know
well enough to have to say hello
but not well enough to use words
beyond good, nice, fine, and well.

This man recently endured
treatment for prostate cancer.
His smile was warm, if worn.
Next to him sat a grizzly man
with a dewy newborn in his lap.
I wanted to swoop up the baby.
My kids think I’m a baby stalker.
They are only partly wrong.

The thing is, my head is a living forest
full of songbirds, and my spirit
is powered by sun and flight,
my body would do anything
to protect a child and my heart
wants to break at the beauty
of irises and bodies, the pain
we must move through
in order to bloom.

It’s no wonder I was late — I know
you’ll agree. You’ve taught this
to me, you know, by writing
what’s true, by showing your rage
and battle, your tenderest inside,
most private petals of layers
where you house memory,
where once you unbolted the walls
and bolted with only a bag
on your back and eyes
that could see
so clearly it made you weep.

I’ve seen the whorl of fingerprints.
There’s a song here
I’m trying to hear.
If that means
being late,
so be it.

Wait.

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