Quiescent and Other Poems


Quiescent

The winner for the most patient gestation
is the elephant, and in competition for slowest

force is erosion, wind wearing away the mountain
one bored gust at a time. Before giant pandas earn


their name, they cub pinkly and mewling, their heft
no greater than an apple. We need a minute to grow


into who we are. Adagio means play slowly. Wait
for me. I’ll be ready soon. Crocquembouche,


baklava, baked Alaska—forbear each layer, rise
and oven chime so we can have something delicious,


maybe even beautiful. If beauty’s time is over, let’s
take our cues from corpse flowers, which require


up to ten years to bloom. Instead of delaying our stroll
to its successful stink, let’s meet in the greenhouse now


to watch its spathe’s shy clutch of the spadix and marvel
at how it meets its own modest needs for so long.


Imagine what we could make of ourselves in a decade.
The argon-argon clock can measure years by the billions.


Venus makes her fame turn by lazy turn, slowest
in the solar system, the Saturday morning of celestial


movement. If I must endure transformation, let it be
steady, even gentle. Let’s hope I’m a mayfly, which maxes


out after a two-year intermission for wings. Some cicadas
need seventeen. Isn’t that a great rest? A perfect time


for emergence? I won’t take that long, I swear. Today,
the world’s slowest song celebrated its first chord change


in seven years. There were crowds. Jubilation. Cries
that it was worth the wait. Don’t leave me in the horror


of incomplete conversion—no arrested moults, no
blackened chrysalid, let me change with a river’s patience,


the persistence of redwoods, the snail’s dedication to
almost there as it slicks its slow inches up the greenest blades.


Joy: A Reprise

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