There is a resignation in the cone of a white pine,
dropped by its mother onto a clump of dried mown grass,
which I arrange among my collection of spent things,
white sap coating my fingers in resinous gratitude.
I remember when she was young,
cloaked in lime green scales,
ironed flat against her peduncle,
like a young girl pressed into herself until her ovaries begin to give seed.
Her skin once gleaming and luminous,
browned by the sun,
crackled by the wind,
wilting, drying, ceding to elemental demands.
And a defiance in the discarded skin of a black rat snake,
her scales knit together like chain mail,
in polished harmony,
waxen to my touch when I untangle it from the forsythia’s grip.
I remember the spring when she emerged from her den
to warm herself in the southern sun beside the cedar,
a bulb of fungus grown bold on her nose during winter’s sleep,
clouding one eye in cataract grey.
Her ebony diamond scales,
Like those of the gecko and the whiptail lizard,
waiting their turn to be sloughed off,
dried out, stretched, and thinned with age.
A grace in the Italian sunflower,
heavy and bent with age,
slung low over the wildflower field,
like a beggar on the steps of the duomo in Siena.
I remember combing the wildflower bed in early summer,
for her green shoot to push up from the earth,
for each anther and stigma and corolla and ovary,
to form into a tapestry of yellow and gold and black.
Her seeds spiralled outward from the center,
breaking her neck,
bowing her head under their weight,
pulling the entire length of her back into the earth.
A mantid’s ootheca,
like sea spume gathered on beach sand,
porous and rough like clay before firing,
waits to be cradled in the arms of a Buddha, and I obey.
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