lilies, dahlias, gladioli, daffodils
Kneel by the dirt, measure two or three
times as deep as the hull is tall.
This is the digging, the planting of bulbs and bulbils—
the nose is up and the roots are down.
There is a vulnerability in having been seen before,
before the bloom, as though dormant now,
as though held quiet, as though you were ever
truly seen when you were only a body unable to move,
a short stem with scales, food stores,
a way to survive underground through wintering.
Like a fetus there is hope in the invisible—
there is hope in a kind of leafing return.
And then the opposite is true.
How is it to be seen after?
We wrap our dead in layers of onion skin.
We think about rain and if it will all hold.
Cold, encased, to stay cold,
like the snow over the graves,
how we stepped but did not walk,
to imagine him, walking from the woodpile,
always warm in the house,
stoking the fire.
There is no remedy for the ground,
for a beating as a stilled thing.
The Wave Machine in Oliver’s Room
I’d rocked him for so many hours, nights, new moons,
even mechanized waves afford a trance.
The perigean tide abducts whatever it wants,
higher than plain spring tide, absence of tiller,
a dark moon placed in ecliptic longitude
with the sun pulls everything out to sea,
a borrowed heart, only a prelude
to disappearance, a yellow shovel washed up like salvage.
I’d watch for things after a storm or the first low tide,
lime sea glass from soda in the ‘60s, windshields with aging
recollections of traffic, the way the rain fell, a ballad
about stepping-off a grid into a tall gown of water long ago.
Underneath it was two-halves of a shell,
the depths sealed away breath and worry until windows
looked the same on either side and jagged glass trailed
into substrate, a divot, and then echoes, sediment laughter.
At slack water, before the tide turned, I sifted through driftwood,
the wrack line, wet sand, grains under my fingernails, receiving blanket, backpack straps.
Molly Kugel is the author of the chapbook, The Forest of the Suburbs (Five Oaks 2015). Her poems have appeared most recently in CALYX, Mid-American Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, and Subtropics. She is a PhD candidate in Literary Studies at the University of Denver.