Linda Dove

Fear is the Day that Isn’t Ordinary

It is not the alarm clock and the coffee
and the work. It is not this morning,
when I read poems and had time
to shave the hair growing from the backs
of my knees. For a long time, I watched
a sparrow shoveling water out of the birdbath,
using his bill like the bucket of a bulldozer.
I ate apples I pulled from the tree.
This morning I watched the news. I saw
the kennels we’ve built to hold the others—
the children and the mothers and the fathers—
and I know that I can decide I don’t want to
travel, which is another way to lose.
I can afford to stay in one place. It is a luxury
to call a home home. To see your name
on a gravestone. To know the local words
for first light and water and help.
To look at the apple’s skin and not see
a map or a shroud. I know where I belong
at least some of the time. I know there is a jar
parked on a mountain high above the border
between Arizona and Mexico. It holds
notes—the voices of hikers and star-gazers
who followed a canyon wren off the trail.
It is full of the ordinary past—weather,
dates, names. Nothing special, nothing
like what those bodies hold, crossing
below it. Sometimes, on an ordinary day,
I think of the fact of it, hovering over the desert
like its own country, those dispersals
casually trusted to the earth, the way we offer
bits of ourselves to the air when we sing.