the names of things growing

the way the water brings us together:
violetta and i at the well spigot
with our plastic pitchers
while the water main in town
is restored to an unbroken condition
it’s interesting that in your first week there
(with the intent to write about water)
that that’s happening she says
(‘that’ being the trickle out of our pipes
last night and an even smaller trickle this morning
which eventually became air)
leon joseph littlebird he says my name
when i ask what name he/his group performs under
red and deep green beads around his
wrist and neck
he has a name for the spiral (which i forget)
says how it’s a navajo symbol for
mother earth’s navel
a reminder of the place we all come from
do you know what kind of trees
these are i ask i need to know the names
of the things growing around me
elm, he points out the small leaves
cottonwood, he points out the bare tops
faded honeybee buzzing around
my limbs, my face – lands
on my hat, my skirt, the inside of my bare elbow
where it walks in circles, perhaps attempting
to draw pollen from my skin
a word for what happens when all the
mountains come into view up against
the sky/clouds doing their desert/sunset thing
not quite a punch nor a ripping
but something like the big mountain itself
taking up residence inside my ribcage
small skull bleach white
found (looked down) in a field of
clover-like brush
cupped in palm
two long front teeth that
remind me of a beaver’s
but i’m guessing is prairie dog
large holes for eyes and
the thin fine squiggle
where the bone grew together
darien’s approach to chai recipe
(which employs the word vessel)
on the tiled counter
while the simmering spices
(cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, clove)
infuse the air
steam rising from
red mug on coffee table
living room light low
desk cleared
kitchen cleaned
hildegard von bingen’s sounds
(via the anonymous four)
lifting up and out into the room
this skin carrying sun-soaked heat
into the cool edge of night


2 Replies to “the names of things growing”

    1. alline!!!! one thing i love about the book is that YOU handed it to me.

      here’s what i liked, especially in the beginning: species of birds as section headings (and the list of species at the back of the book), lake levels for each chapter, the weaving of the bird stories, the family/mother story, the lake and land stories, the sciencey/geographyness mixed in with memoir/living experience. i also loved the mixing in of witchy/woo/mysticism (dreams, astrology, rituals).

      here’s what i didn’t notice at first, but then became more apparent to me as time went on (and i didn’t like): there are parts of it that felt too edited for me, sometimes in a way that seemed overwrought – not the stories themselves, but just the POETICNESS EVERYWHERE… sometimes i just wanted a story or an experience to be just that, but she often has these poetic statements that she ends passages on that took it too far. (it’s a fine line, because i loved it in someplaces and in other places i was like: just let the bird just be a bird and the land be land and you be you.)

      sometimes i found myself plowing right through the bird and lake/land stuff just to get to the mother story – that was the most powerful thread of it all for me. (and i got lost/uninterested with the bird/lake things – i wanted pictures to help me viusalize – think that would have kept more of my interest).

      what i found most powerful about the book: in her writing about the process of her mother’s dying, i hit a point where my response was ‘ok, that’s enough now’ and i love that she wrote past that point. i consider myself comfortable with death and honoring of it – a sacred thing, so it surprised me to notice that reaction of mine – and when she crosses that line – that’s the rawest gem of the book. powerful beyond powerful.

      what are your thoughts on it?
      it was an amazing book to carry me here, thank you again for handing it to me!

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