A Collection of Poems by Lenore Hildebrandt
French Fingerlings. Magic Molly.
In a shallow box by the window
this year’s tubers warm to the thought
of growing. They understand fertility
as a sequence of moves. Fuzzy sprouts
push from the dust-shriveled skin,
eyes urge toward an opening.
Obliging, I will place each tuber
into the soil of their dark-days
like others before me—a line of planters
who have bent over shallow trenches,
who have hilled and watered
and in summer marveled at elegant plants
bearing white and purple blooms.
The strength of these earth companions—
to burrow down and resurrect.
In the Andes, the world-mother is offered
a meal and a sprinkling of chicha.
Does she fathom the depth of our hunger?
Cradled in my hand, this nightshade
offers something like a future.
I thought of Galileo, how he sifted numbers
rearranging and probing the assumptions—
then the spheres expanded. A sea-change!
Today they brought in a boy on a stretcher, put him down.
I heard him moan—then it was quiet.
The days advance too fast—our divers pressuring on,
sinking through a curtain of silt. Like the calcific shells
we assess, they are worn thin by the sea.
Later I went back to look at his body and saw
how small, how frail the bones.
Geese hover by the reef—my bold singers.
The waves are folding under, the sea taking
the gravel beach. Some days seem merely adrift.
His family may never know… Whole villages
have been cracked open, buried under.
We count minutia—the sea’s smallest creatures
that feed both hunter and the hunted––our computations
desperately elegant: curves, correlations, hyperlinks.
Everyone is hungry. Fish and rice. The poorest,
invisibly, flock back across the coastal lowlands.
The sea lies open in wide troughs—our yearning.
When Galileo shattered the spheres, he blushed—
his heart, too, a rising ocean.
I ran to the margins bordering north
where the land ends and the sea ends.
In the quiet, I could hear my own heartbeat.
When I tried to stop thinking, space rushed in,
uncontrollably. The water at my feet
did not trouble itself over me, so I stayed—
at least the ocean was right in its fervor.
The wind acted friendly sometimes,
sweeping through, cooling heads,
but terribly, I doubted
my own clinging—that history
might have taught us.