K.A. Hays
It's Not For Me But I'm Here In It

and when I'm trudging through tall grass to the downed tree I trip
on an empty bottle of Two Hearted Ale,
unbroken in the onion grass and wild violets, just by where the two-hundred-year-old oak
split-slammed and splintered into bits in a tornado,
but I'm used to tripping and falling and catching myself and getting up–
my mother always said she should have named me Grace–
so I get myself up off the ground with green-stained knees
and a white-throated sparrow whistles, O dear, not for me,
not for me
, which I take as a sign,
but not a sign that signifies, because nothing does, really, even criminal acts
seem not to signify if acted by the powerful, no one really given what’s due, no one really seen–
and it seems this two-hundred-year-old tree
that twisted in the storm and spun to the soft earth
still blooms
this morning from its brokenness, a green-gold flowering,
even downed, with fleshy roots ripped, exposed, and I feel a little shamed
and exposed out here too, me,
and my companions skunk-scent / cut wire / pipe thing
that connects to a larger system I don’t understand,
all of us, skunk-scent-cut-wire-pipe-thing-me, not waiting, even,
all of us unreadable and not asking to be read, instead needing
to be, to be, even the split tree still in this weird fabulous-awful enterprise
of being, the soft wet moss on its bark brilliant green this morning, fed
by the storm, bright as false-hope now when I sit down near it,
no longer walking anywhere or needing even to seem,
me and my two-heartedness,
the heart inside the body I call mine and the heart in which
the tree and I and the moss are no bigger than atoms,
and know about as much as atoms do about the whole.

K.A. Hays is the author of Dear Apocalypse (2009), Early Creatures, Native Gods (2012), and Windthrow (2017). Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Tin House, and other magazines. She lives in Lewisburg, PA and directs the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets.