Today is My Birthday*

and I’m trying to spend it giving tiny gifts to other folks.
A genuine “good morning” on the trail, that sort of thing.
And not just human folks.

Immediately what happens
is I’m noticing: layers of world
keep giving themselves to me.

How pleasant other people are in passing
—and sometimes, how startled.

How my arches flex with something that’s very like joy:
a thrill in their own strength, employed for service.

How treecreepers pip! to each other
in their spiral wanderings.

How ponderosa’s ocher-gold topography
lies split by rivers silting silver sun.

How I’ve never seen this path before,
this wide inviting track,
where the mower has humbled
blue chicory and the knee-high golden grasses,
sparrowsong-colored.

Dead-center, every now and then,
coyote’s marked her passing,
just this hour. She’s done it, siting carefully,
over days. Perhaps they are a farming country pack,
and this their highway.

It skirts the hill and dips behind the quiet,
where human roads transfigure into myth.
Instead there are the flutterings in the grass.
Instead there is the particular sizzle of breeze
in a wilding apple.

So I am given another gift—
of coming down to size. Of wariness
that lives in the stomach’s pit,
recalls its home in the searching ears
and the edges of the eyes.

And oh, thank you. I did not know
to ask for this.
Sometimes there is nothing I can offer.

Sometimes what’s outside of me
must be allowed
to color my outlines in.

Fields and hedgerows at high summer, very early morning.

*This poem appeared originally in Leaping Clear, Spring 2019, in a season that was not, in fact, near my nativity.


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