Offering

for Ms. Oliver

____________________

What am I doing
when you look over and catch me
staring,
and a scrap of laughter finds its way out
as you ask me
“What”?

This isn’t exactly rhetorical.
And I know I usually answer
“Just thinking.”

But what happens is
we fall for someone,
and even if we don’t admit it,
we notice

when they read a book
and the morning sun filtering in through the blinds
gathers in their hair
like light illuminating a marble sculpture
as their eyes drift away from the pages;

and they have their own little sounds of contentment
that exit and dance in the air
as they spread butter or twirl spaghetti;

or there’s that thing they do with their face;

or whether they talk or remain quiet in the woods-
whether they know of wisdom or of reverence;

the way they say exactly;

and their endless ocean of silence
made up of every word they never say,
and the why;

and islands, as well-
those secret islands we might bring each other to,
and the maps only each the other holds,
will ever hold…

Consider:

the bird’s feet run, stop, run, stop, run across the sand.
The bird is looking for something,
and the spray and flowing crawl of the sea
whispers the tracks away.

The dog lopes along the snowbanks,
breaks into a run, cuts to the side, stops, turns,
runs back and tackles you.
You have forgotten that he loves you
and so now must be reminded.
It’s not your fault. The dog knows you’re only human.

The horse is stretched out
and running freely into the wind,
which does not slow her.
The fields are deep in green
and the thunderheads are dark of blue,
and she kicks at the striking lightning.
The horse loves the storm, you see,
as the storm loves her back.

Consider

that I have buried many dead things,
yet have unearthed my own heart every time.
Consider all the times we’ve each done so.

So in all honesty, when you catch me,
I’m not “just thinking”
(even though that may sound better).

As you’ve noticed, I like to pay attention.
Must pay it, in fact.

If I could offer a thing more precious,
then please,
tell me.

That’s all I’m doing, my dear.

I’m just paying attention.

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