Rain Forest 1

After I’d done this year’s writing retreat, my Mom and two nieces joined me for another week in Costa Rica. They wanted to know what I’d been writing all week, which was not ready to be shared, but I had also written some poems so I read those. Then I had the idea to write them a poem a day for the week; the first of those is below.

I took the photo of the baby sloth; it’s an apt symbol for the concept of “work that is not work” that is in the poem.

Rain Forest 1

For Laurel & Jordan

I sit in a rain forest
the sounds like so many curtains
rain drops from the roof
onto broad green and brown leaves
birds get started in anticipation
of light
insects move to the background
(they had the night shift)
and that damned rooster somewhere
to my right in a great distance but
nearer than the howlers
who fill an unseen canopy with

I’ve done nothing but sit in chairs
and moved words around on pages
have not studied Greek
or published books or had profound
things written by other profound
people about my work
a dog barks in the town
somewhere to my left the dogs here
have their own lives
never attached to humans or yards
always on their way somewhere
they have things to do
places to be.

My nieces think the dogs are sad
lonely think they need more friends
and loving “they’re living their best lives”
I say “look at them
they have plans, they’re headed
In the rain forest the nieces breathe
eyelashes on cheeks
they have brought zippered binders
thick with pages
they do the work of one day
getting work so I will take them
to see a sloth that’s been hanging around
a certain tree all week
will show them a farm among
these forests a flock of toucans
will bathe them in the layered greens
a canopy of oxygen

I want to write a poem a day
to show them work
that is not work, to hear
sounds we’ve had no hand in
a mountain so precious that clouds
hold its peak in a moist coil
butterflies humming birds bright frogs
ladder vines that monkeys use
to never touch the ground


Progressive Tense Cards (6)

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