Offerings

By Laurel Bastian

Because it’s instinct
to bring a small gift
when you visit
I want to leave oranges for the chimpanzees
in the zoo’s primate house

But not really oranges
and not people things
Mysterious, monkey-right things
Out of some indebtedness

Same thing for the lions
who don’t get to silence
live things between their teeth

Or maybe it’s an unromantic
overwhelming awe
which demands action:
unpacking my human mind
laying it out on a broad stone
letting my name drop
to the nowhere it came from
so I am again a verb: lovestruck

As in dreams when ribs
open out like gates
innards rushed by light

If there’s no right commodity
to give monkeys
instead should I step small?
Is being gone a gift?

But there is this urge
to mirror back each grace
         (and matter is our vehicle for gesture (for example,
          a bouquet presented to a girl — the flowers themselves,
          before being cut just movement; heads
          flushed and rotating to the earth’s turn))

Below the barter that keeps our maps
pinned down and agreed upon
it is very likely 

that we are loved intimately and impersonally
down to the moving cell-grain
by a centripetal force
that has no stake in maintaining
our current plans and bodies
but waits for us, a broad and intractable net

This desire to give concrete offerings
to water, color, armories of trees
is more than  a trading desire

Cut a slice of love from the air at your left
and eat it
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About Laurel Bastian

Laurel Bastian has work in Margie, the Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, Nimrod, Anderbo and other publications, was a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and holds a MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches creative writing at a men's prison near Madison.

5 Comments

  1. Jack Bastian
    Posted June 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Laurel, I really liked that. Especially the last line. Sometimes Jane sleeps cuddled in my left arm, and I can feel her love in the air.

  2. Robin
    Posted July 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Lauren, that was fabulous! It sounds like something I’d write. I love how you have tapped into a visceral feeling of connection with sometime wild, in the context of being friends with them. It’s like it’s natural that we would feel such a connection. You captured that so neatly, so succiently. I will keep this poem to read again and again. Thank you for this gem. Robin

  3. jana collin
    Posted July 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Laurel – I love the picture you’ve painted to describe this relationship with the creator. Irreverence and awe so intense that grasping to matter for expression is the only human option for understanding. Very nice. There was a teetering point for me in this poem, on the line “to mirror back each grace” I was almost lost and abandoned the poem but once making it through the stanza I felt momentum through the end of the poem.

  4. Marvin R. Hiemstra
    Posted July 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Your respect for the World and all therein is quite astounding. I especially love

    If there’s no right commodity
    to give monkeys
    instead should I step small?
    Is being gone a gift?

    Thanks for the intense pleasure of reading your poem

  5. Posted August 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    A nice sentiment that culminates with

    This desire to give concrete offerings
    to water, color, armories of trees
    is more than a trading desire

    And to point out a bit of nicely executed imagery

    As in dreams when ribs
    open out like gates
    innards rushed by light

    All in all, a good read.

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