If

IF

The mind wants
everything that isn’t.

Its running list
of alternatives is

constant and vivid:
I would have been

a choreographer in
a bigger city if

I’d had more talent
as a dancer

or a farmer
if I’d loved

the land better.
If I hadn’t watched

the video of
polar icecaps melting

I’d be happier
about the pink

blossoms swelling daily
so early in the

season, fleshy teacups
on bare branches

I glimpse from
the car window.

My choosing of
the classic rock

satellite radio station
is a gesture

of escapism and my
braking to a stop

beside the tree
is a gesture of

reverence. It won’t
last, it won’t last

is a chant like
the Hare Krishnas’ chants

in the mall that
my grandmother warned me

not to listen to.
If we had done

this or that
we might say

in a hundred years
we could have

stopped this. What
that this will

turn out to be
we don’t know

yet. If and
yet are pixels

my mind zooms
in on or

shapes like snowflakes
that land on

my mind. My mind
wants so much:

to rest, to chant,
transcend, blossom, to

binge watch Netflix.
It wants to

say the words
that will save

the world and
knows it can’t.

It watches the
bees, mad and

hungry, nestle in
new blossoms. It wants

to not know
that seven types

of bees are
now endangered species.

It doesn’t mean
to but it feels

the wish appear:
if I never had

a daughter I
wouldn’t have to wonder

what kind of oceans
she will drown in.

The Distance Between Planets

When I read the news that no one will sit
next to Tiffany Trump during fashion week,
I feel the way I felt when I learned
my daughter’s school was selling valentines
to be delivered during the school day
to kids whose parents or friends had bought them.
Imagine waiting though math, through literacy,
through lunch, PE, for the heart-shaped card
that never arrives. These are two small
instances of sorrow. The sorrow of the mother
whose son was shot at the border
while playing chicken with his friends is larger,
if sorrow can be measured. It’s like imagining
the universe, the distance between here
and the moon becoming tiny when compared
to the distance between planets.
Think of the galaxy next door and then
think of whole clusters of galaxies.
The moon is so far away most of us
will never touch it, but we’ve all been alone
in a crowd, hoping against hope someone
will notice us, that some small heart
or star will drift down to land in our palm.

Poem to February

Awhile back I swore I was going to try harder
to love more. It’s going poorly.
I hate February because it’s the month
my daughter almost died in as a toddler.
What doctors thought was a stomach bug
was a rare strep germ abscessing
in her belly. It’s the month a dear friend
really did die in from another rare kind
of strep on her skin. I hate missing her.
I hate cattle ranchers when I read
they are feeding their cows red Skittles
instead of corn. Though some scientists claim
candy is just as nutritious, it’s hard to believe
that’s wholesome. I know I should stop eating meat,
but occasional hamburgers make me so happy!
Things are so rarely what you imagine.
I thought when I was pregnant I would live
on organic fruit and radiant joy,
but I was nauseous and miserable.
My daily McDonald’s sausage biscuit
smeared with grape jelly got me through it.
Right now if we’re not hating our neighbors
for wearing their pink pussy hats,
we’re hating them for hating us for wearing them.
Yesterday I thought I saw a man in a ragged coat
helping a man in a wheelchair cross Colfax,
but when I got closer I could hear him yelling,
angry that the wheelchair wasn’t faster.
Meanwhile the cars whizzed past without slowing.
I know the people in the cars are real people,
many of them kind, with problems of their own,
but it’s so easy to hate them when I can’t see them.
I should love them for their invisible struggles.
February, I should love you for what you’ve left me,
which is almost everything, and I’m trying to.

Red Light Green Light

When the comedian on morning radio
makes a joke about white women who think
the universe is telling them something

I think I would quit—

everything—

if I could.

The traffic’s just-before-rush-hour pattern,
cars darting lane to lane, all speed and brake,

mirrors my constant rearrangement
of the day’s dull but necessary elements.

The moment both lights at the intersection are red
is like the moment between breaths.

The van slowing for a man crossing in a wheelchair
he is powering by mouth with what looks like a straw
has a bumper sticker that says Funeral.

My desperate hope for magic
each day is selfish—isn’t it?—

but I still want it.

 

Insomnia

The world won’t
recede. Today’s

small complications,
minor irritations,

inconsequential
decisions are

magnified 1000 x
by my mind turned

stalwart nocturnal
animal with powerful

night vision. My
imagination spotlights

future funerals like
scenes on a stage.

I gaslight myself.
Any real or larger

problem is apocalyptic
in the dark. Tomorrow,

oh tomorrow,
you’ll be better,

I know, though
right now I doubt

whether, like any
of us, you’ll make it.