Roots

I leave my house in the damp
blurriness of morning, walk until
the city cannot reach me.
Stepping out of my shoes, I press
the warm soles of my feet
onto wet stone, damp leaves,
but still the distance between me
and the roots of things is too great.
So I kneel down, dig my fingers into
the blanket of dirt, peel open
crinkly seed pods,
the ideas of so many trees lined up
inside that brown dying skin.
I put a seed in my mouth, taste my
longing to enter the humus,
to close all the gaps between me
and the ground of all growing.
When it starts to rain, I lift my face
toward the downpour, willing
the moving sky and the wet earth
and the tall trees to swallow me
inside themselves, wash away
the boundaries of my skin,
plastic beads, synthetic clothes.
Kneeling with the devotion
of a thousand desperate
saints, I ask the earth to absorb
me with gulping love
into her ripe
rolling body.

When the Moon Fell in the Desert

Tonight I watched a star slice through the dark
Turkana sky, so bright I thought the
moon was falling, and I realized it
was the first thing I’d seen in this
wide country that made me gasp
for the beauty of it. But this place, too,
is beloved of the earth, this place, too,
holds the million miracles. I suspect it takes
a learning, a leaning into this life, to see
its small offerings, an intimacy with
the blazing heat, the endless sand,
the sharp clarity of no water, no food,
no crops, before your heart can open
wide enough to receive the gift of the golden sun
laying its heart across the lean acacia. Before you
smile to hear the black bird with the caw
like a creaking door and the dove
with its watery whooping. And then,
if you are lucky, you will find you love
the immense courage and artistry of a people
choosing thousands of beads, startling
against the endless browns of this place,
who wear as much beauty as their necks can hold
when beauty seems to have no meaning.
Who find time to attend to the stringing of necklaces,
hard silver bands bent around wrists, tiny braids
against smoothly shaven temples when water itself
is unassumed, when life this week again
is tenuous. When did I learn that beauty
was a luxury? What have I ever known
about survival?