for Rachel

You light the jasmine incense.
Smoke becomes a bird, a feather,
then disappears. You sit on the floor,

the line of your back west to east,
and balance between this room
and the sun in a turquoise sea.

You have offered your heart to calmness.
It touches objects at rest: the crimson
towel hung to dry on its brass hook,

the steaming blue teapot, lemon slices
wedged beside two porcelain cups,
the white resolve of linen.

At the window, the snow’s vacancy.
A trumpeter in a fur hat stands near
the apothecary, floats his Ode to Joy

up to our room. You breathe deeply.
Quiet comes from your center, as from
the core of a pear, not from hard edges or

gravity of stones or a house. You have given
up our house in the suburbs where neighbors,
you say, breast-feed their lawns.

You returned your father’s name
in a letter. You have given up man-made
fibers, the skins of chickens

and what lies beneath. Shopping malls,
you say — there are no roots beneath concrete.
In my green chair, I try to read Kafka,

but cannot keep from watching you,
thinking, That whole body
came out of me.

Your torso now bends, lithe as
the reach of stem from a pond, your hair floats
on the rug. You must know how water is, its wet

short life. I have not told you how I admire the arch
of your back, more graceful than a dolphin’s rising
from translucent water into the wide expectant sky.