Steven Toussaint

st. francis

  That the irises die.
That the cadmium bolt from the anther.
That the hollyhocks thrust forth impermanence
  I recognise, that my cat
finish in the bottlebrush, half-closing her eyes
turned out upon shadow to recognise herself
in what the sun does, and the bees possessive barter
with the pistil, in ceremonial operations of dispersal
and return, reticulated footprints up the vine
  the surest sign of freehold.
That they have cause to sorrow, the bad water
the bald light pacing the growth of foxgloves. That the dark
  side of the sage leaf hide
the fragrance of the herb. To draw
  new colonies we grew felicia
daisies in a dozen places up the hillside
  but from the way the workers’
dance had changed, from trembling to swaying so
dispassionate the petals hardly tipped, I recognised
  the once good air
had weaponised, and how each breath I took
sold back to blossom but a fraction of the gust its greeny
  muscles manufactured
that the calyx self-propel her clutch
  of seed. That the rain
of atoms overhead erase the easy
  credit of the dead. That I choke
on smoke of sacrificial bergamot, its papal
  mauve, but weep not, keep
my salt aloft to spare this funeral earth.