Be Careful and Watch
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things
your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them
to your children and to their children after them— Deuteronomy 4:9
The body is a grave, you said,
but a grave for light, I knew
then—light becomes the flesh,
slips beneath the skin. The scene
by the sprinkler box with valves,
mushrooms beneath the broken lid,
comes to me. I touch the webs,
turn water on, touch heads
of mushrooms, plush moss in dark.
I go inside to peonies, pillows
of scent and petals, clouds on stems,
their buds, sticky spheres, peeling,
sap the ants love, hardened fruit.
They hoped their way in brilliance
like those billowed around them.
It is a grave the body remembers.
The light is alive, and time opens
the screen above the peonies,
grandmother alive in the kitchen,
dimmed, no lights on, too hot for light.
Mary there as I look for centipedes
in the sprinkler box, pill bugs, spiders,
there, when I touch the peony that
gives shivers back and scent on skin.
What will I say to the child who looks
at light? What can I teach? Bury it deep
in your cells, I’ll say. Bury the light.
Mark it well and safe. Unravel it like a bud,
chant it to the new light, tell the light
what it has been and where it is going.