by Barbara Crooker
Prayer in Autumn
Turn me to gold, Lord, burnish me;
strip me of chlorophyll, all those green
thoughts. Let me brown and dry, crisp
as old vellum; let me sail a long way
across the green lawn. Spin and skitter,
the final dance, one long waltz,
as the world flames scarlet, vermillion.
All of this dazzle, all of it gone.
From the Middle Kingdom:
Tu Wi’s Contemplates Buttercups
Tu Wi’s is an imaginary poet of the Sung Dynasty
Has the sun fallen in this grassy field?
Oh, no, it’s just a flower, trembling on a slender stalk.
Rubbing it between my fingers, the silky petals
paint them gold. Place a handful in a glass jar,
and I am a rich woman indeed.
Tu Wi’s Picks a Dandelion and
Thinks about the Impermanence of Things
Little suns, fallen to earth, blaze on the greening grass.
Landlords despise them, dig out their fiery pinwheels
with metal prongs, muttering words like “common”
and “weeds.” Their notched leaves, jagged lion’s teeth.
Their sunny faces, shaggy little manes. Old people
gather them along the roadside in early spring,
eat them in salads with hot bacon dressing,
to strengthen the blood. Some distill them in flowery wine.
But most pass them by, too ordinary to notice.
When they go to seed, a child’s breath or a puff
of wind sends thousands of tiny parachutes spinning.
They shall inherit the earth.