In late April they spread manure on the fields
the same week the lilac hedges bloom,
so the nose gets one of those symphonic challenges
that require you to stand out on the porch and breathe.
The earth goes around a corner, the dresser drawers slide out
and naturally, we change our clothes,
putting the long underwear away,
taking out the short-sleeve shirts,
trying to make the transition
from psychological Moscow
to psychological Hawaii.
When Mary left her husband in December,
she made herself despise him
as a way of pushing off,
like you would push off from the wall of a swimming pool,
but then she gradually believed her own story
of how horrible he was,
and when I talked to her in March,
she was still spitting on his memory;
you would have thought she never had a heart.
There’s a wheel turning in the center of the earth
and over it, our feet are always running, running,
trying to keep pace.
Then there’s a period of quietude and rue,
when you want to crawl inside yourself,
when you prefer ugliness to hope.
Last night the sunset was so pink and swollen
the sky looked like it had gotten an infection.
We were sitting on the lawn and sipping lemonade.
Inflamed clouds were throbbing in the fevered light.
Shannon murmured, Somebody better call a doctor.
Kath said, Somebody get some aspirin.
But nobody moved.
And the smell of lilacs and manure blew out of the fields
with such complexity and sweetness, we closed our eyes.
It had nothing to do with being good, or smart, or choosing right.
It had to do with being lucky—
something none of us had ever imagined.
—by Tony Hoagland,
from What Narcissism Means to Me
Thanks to Gray Wolf Press