Like a dog digging, ignorant
of that for which it digs, but smelling
something––go after it. Find it out,
dirt flying up on either side
claws tearing through rock and gravel
in a whimpering ecstasy known by dogs,
an eagerness driven by sheer not-knowing
like digging potatoes in the harvest garden
––how many, how big, the excitement builds––
like that. Like presents under the tree
and a child tearing in a fever
of getting more, more––that’s how it is
with this going back to the central core
Get naked and dig. You are what you are,
whatever that is. Displace the layers
of paint and dirt, back to elementary
matter, the core as I’ve called it
above. Below, at center, it is to consume
the seeds––supposedly poison. Pay no attention.
It’s only the apple of God. You’ve already eaten
in to the core. Might as well eat the seeds
and see what happens.
I’m about the business of learning Finnish
tricking out my mother’s life by tens
of letters in single words: k’s, n’s, omnipresent
o’s struggle with my western speech for dominance.
I fall back to lullaby then
meet with resistance at the early hour
of Anglicization, acculturation
in a neighborhood where a different majority ruled.
In my majority I choose her language
and feel the gates of the sluiceway lift
when I dive down
in a rush of syllables, trusting when I surface
again, I’ll surface in Finland,
my keel, my rudder,
my compass––my mother tongue.
*Finnish for mother tongue
Unless you become like a little child…
Pricked with the point of a safety pin
my index finger dripped blood
on the index of my life’s book:
If you don’t destroy the world, I will give you my life.
Nine years old, I signed the note
in blood, buried it in a woodsy glade
where it rotted into the earth
with root and maggot.
Now at the other end of life
I look out on a May-green field
bordered by ash and wild cherry,
burgeoning lilac, poised to bloom.
The world blooms.
You’ve kept your side of the bargain.
I’ve kept mine too, amazed to find
that giving over a life is life, not self-denial
fulfillment of a kind all unexpected.