ADVICE TO A WRITER IMAGINING CONCEPTION AND BIRTH
Look for a tree stump in the woods. Compare it to love,
examine the particulars, how your mother mounted
your father on Labor Day in a bungalow, Liberty, New York.
Describe a snowfall before your parents met. Take your time.
Leave out myth and literature. Relate it to life in an American
town, one with a rotating cocktail lounge.
Now imagine yourself as a parchment worm
wedged into a crevice to avoid attack. Liken your fear
to a clamp. How does it resemble the opal clam
from New South Wales? Speak up. Check it out.
Write a poem of departure in which you use the color blue,
a hue like the glow of fish cast ashore by a stormy sea.
Your parents are leaving town. They’ve rented a bungalow
in Liberty, New York. You’re not around to say: after dark,
exact change. You’re not even a tiny moonlet in a microscope,
a bluet in the woods. Contrast your nothingness to words
that start with “k”: killjoy, kisscurl, kelp. Are these words
comical in any special way? Say how you feel about kale.
Will you grow to leave it on your plate?
Your parents sit in a trance. They have just made love
and are counting snowflakes: uno, dos, tres …
Are they from Bogota, Colombia, and in New York on
a whim? You are about to divide. Say something about the
intricate coil of DNA. Double helix. Double Dutch. Jump in.
Make the leap. Now you’re a nation newly emerged.
Dispense with history, the transitory passions of people’s wants.
Words are dropping fast.
—from Rattle #25, Summer 2005