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Michael Simms reads five poems of joy and acceptance from his collection American Ash: The Summer You Learned to Swim; Oh, Darlin'; Evening; Uncorrected Proof; and Consider the Hummingbird. -- Uncorrected Proof My mother who was much wiser Than I knew used to say Make sure there are mistakes In everything you do So the gods won't be jealous And sure enough I find my mistakes spreading Like bluebonnets On a dry plain beside The Llano River Where we spread her ashes With the ashes of my father Whom she loved -- She loved this imperfect man And found beauty In his mistakes Imagine And the river carried her ashes Down to the Colorado And the Gulf of Mexico And who knew She’d come back as a breeze On this patio -- I once knew a composer Who listened so intently When I spoke He didn’t hear me The grief passed long ago And what’s left is Shadow and sunlight taking turns Passing over dry sands -- A translator famous for his versions Of Akhmatova Said he was trapped Between heaven and earth Imagine being so in love The mistakes you make Keep you on the ground Imperfect and happy -- Which was it? Rain falling on dry sand Steam rising in the valley The mountain turning blue In the gathering dark? Or was it Rosy fingered silence As my friend Jose says Yes metaphors are Things with sharp edges That can hurt you -- Most days I’m sleepwalking Passing trees without seeing them Hearing birds and neighbors Who want nothing more Than acknowledgment a simple Good morning or a nod And then as if as if For the first time ever I’m awake this doesn’t happen often Just every now and then like Sunlight on a patio with bougainvillea A profusion of hibiscus and a scent Of salt carried by a breeze From an ocean far away
Copyright 2020 Michael Simms. From American Ash (Ragged Sky, 2020).