This poem, for me, is an exploration of the dirt in life. Those spaces in between that we like to pretend aren't there. Moments that aren't ours, so we turn our eyes in other directions. It's also about the random scars of the human heart.
by Brenda Hillman
After the wildfires our cities are brighter
at sunset. Doctors with carphones
and the young leave work early to watch
the dragon streaks of orange. In the hills,
new energy as the rattlesnakes plan
stamina among the dry coyote bushes;
coastal winds with warm
and all-mothering powers blow
ashes of brush fires up from L.A.
over the homeless avenues, a backless
song of the conquered and the conqueror,
since California is its own muse...
In town, people we've stepped over all day
rise to get diner in the churches.
Mostly pasta on doubled paper plates.
They put boiled eggs in their pockets
for later, as Saturn's shadow might
swallow it's small moons. When is the moment
the prophets arrive? Curled carrots
look lively and pierced. The addicts eat fast,
but others put extra bread slowly in bags,
bread with proud energy passed from the sun
to the wheat will help the people back
to the avenue, to unlearn the directions,
they stagger toward standing--
(can you remember standing as a baby
before you learned your boundaries too well?)
Sunset on the leather faces, asking for money;
should we give it to them (you survivor--)
and whom do we work for? the family?
for the guy with tassels on his loafers
or for the coiled internal snake
that's happy only after we've fed it
the small mammal of the unexpected?
Beside us, the goodbye-love generation
awaits the prophetic moment--
And if there's no prophetic moment?
No lightning instructions from the root
of the laurel, no fire congress
at the center of the world, if we can't even say
Not this time clearly into them, maybe
if we just notice one thing: look
at the buttons for instance: how many are there?
Look at the corner of the eyes: moisture
triangles, sleep scum...We wanted the perfect
heart but the energy didn't spin
one of those. The imperfect heart
of love is not looking away--