Availability is the antithesis of action.
—Woman interviewed in the Ways of Seeing TV program
I have gone to the edge and back.
But perhaps that was a mirage.
I have said, take these plants I gathered
and eat them. Wondering if you would find
a scythe in the very heart of me. Even
the flowers might turn
in the early evening sun
and so wherever I devoted my labors
I could know just a little of death. But what is
wilting, when the hours expand
beyond my ability to see them
and people say my name
in languages I haven’t heard. Am I seduced
by caring for you, and does it matter
that I do.
If you take me seriously
I might be able to make something
But what if I had this epiphany long before you asked.
What bright cover I’ve hidden under
all this time
like an animal in her territory
observed from the mauled
a species whose appearance has meaning only
in light of her absence.
My no is a road
to a thought. The spring crows coalesce
and then disperse, agitated.
When have I ever waited.
When have I not.
Identity is a funny thing
for example am I a nun
or a wilderness?
is more available?
Life in which I choose the desert
in which I choose the fog
in which I choose the forest
in which I choose the sea
in which I choose the tundra
in which I choose the fields
in which I choose the moon
in which I choose the ship.
Action as movement, or as change.
There is what we do, and then what we think of it.
When we talk about how it could have been
is it just another way of saying
To care, care for, care about, take care of, a duty, a ward
an honor and privilege, a burden, a humbling, a crumb
an allowance, a sigh.
If it takes
a village, what is a village
is it an apartment complex
or is it a series of stars that only appear connected
The truth is that
I am tired
of the false lights
tired of the way my body carries me toward them
again. In the dark hour of my dreams
I will meet myself
and eat the plants that I have gathered
and when I see myself again I will wonder
where I came from.
Julie Choffel is the author of The Hello Delay (Fordham UP) and Dear Wallace (forthcoming in 2024 from The Backwaters/Univ. of Nebraska Press). She lives near Hartford and teaches at the University of Connecticut.