Willowing while the river ran wild past our feet,
we reached out reckless from the bank
to grasp the longer shoots dangling over water.
Just one more armful, you said, just one more
sheaf to finish that last basket that sits
with ribs exposed on the dresser
looking something like a shipwreck.
Back home, you kneel amid discarded clippings,
twisting water-soaked willows round the basket’s ribs,
sometimes using feet or teeth to secure loose strands.
Pen in hand, I watch and write,
weaving words like willows round a delicate frame
that has no strength until the willow’s warp
binds it to itself,
flexible yet stronger than it will ever need to be.
Words are more willow than water,
more a growing thing than a flowing,
to be shaped into a woven web whose worth
is partly in itself and partly in what it will carry.
From amid your clutter comes a small thing of integrity.
You speak of all the sap in a quart of syrup,
of the gallons of milk in a block of cheese,
of the canceled pages behind my lines. . .
In the hollow of the bed,
we weave our arms round each other,
twist together our souls’ desire like licorice,
and there is no wind more wild than our blood.
Willowing while the river ran eternally toward the sea,
I saw your toe touch water when you leaned
nearly too far out,
and I knew your limbs and the limbs of the tree
drank somehow from one source,
and my love opened upward and out,
filling the sky with blue.
From Wild Apples (Parallel Press).
Used here with the author’s permission.