Quiescent and Other Poems


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

People on couch
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