by Geffrey Davis 

—to the young worrier that lives in me

Dearness—My hand won’t stop brushing the rough
bark of the redbud you didn’t believe
we’d live to see flower again. And I can smell
the windfallen leaves involved in the dark work
we still have left before we embrace
in the one night all bodies must lie down in.

But not today. Today the neighborhood crows
and traveling geese are singing of arrival: We made it!
We made it!—thin light slanting gently through
this busy air. Thank you for filling up
our lungs between each suffering back then,
for giving us what we needed to get

here, where I pick one of this season’s last
edible seeds just to feel your smile’s old
rarity stumble across the quiet
warmth of my mouth’s stage. Often, we were racked
with unthinkable grief; and more sorrow
is surely on its way. But we were blessed

by something, too. And today the soft light,
the coarse tree with its crisp pods, the singing
wind, and this absurd swell of gratitude
for how you outlived the awful wait
that fear can make of longing—which, I’ve come
to assure you, we find bright ways to survive.


Finalist of the Poetry International Prize 2023

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