Any Common Desolation by Ellen Bass

Any Common Desolation

By Ellen Bass

can be enough to make you look up

at the yellowed leaves of the apple tree, the few

that survived the rains and frost, shot

with late afternoon sun. They glow a deep

orange-gold against a blue so sheer, a single bird

would rip it like silk. You may have to break

your heart, but it isn’t nothing

to know even one moment alive. The sound

of an oar in an oarlock or a ruminant

animal tearing grass. The smell of grated ginger.

The ruby neon of the liquor store sign.

Warm socks. You remember your mother,

her precision a ceremony, as she gathered

the white cotton, slipped it over your toes,

drew up the heel, turned the cuff. A breath

can uncoil as you walk across your own muddy yard,

the big dipper pouring night down over you, and everything

you dread, all you can’t bear, dissolves

and, like a needle slipped into your vein—

that sudden rush of the world.

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