And as the flurried sky cleared, the giant snow-capped trees
turned out to be cell-phone towers, and the bird singing what seemed
a spring song reminded that it was late December, and so, disoriented, we
bought a newspaper advertising where for a limited time only you could get
two queen-sized mattresses for the price of one—or perhaps you could die
for the single price of living, like that bee—just back
in October—slowed by a near-frost and dazed to a half-crawl
within the tall mouth of a day lily where it staggered among spent anthers.
It reminds how first life is not enough, then too much. —Or of where
we cram things now—on a microchip—or scrunched with bicycles,
desks, and lawn chairs into a pod packed with other pods in a large
building. —Now some quick-silver sun through clouds. How to gather
it all up? Or where to go when it’s gone? There’s always the forest
at midnight, where we would have in the past. It waits there untended,
all of its urgent trees, and now those tons of snow you’ve gained or lost
in sleep begin to form a mountain you must climb, one in memory,
and it’s the smell of snow melting in sun that keeps you going.
Mark Irwin’s nine collections of poetry include A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987- 2014), Tall If (2009), Bright Hunger (2004), and White City (2000). Recognition for his work includes The Nation / Discovery Award, two Colorado Book Awards, four Pushcart Prizes, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer Foundations. His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry, was published in 2017 by Peter Lang, New York. He is a professor in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles and Colorado. His poetry has been translated into several languages.