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Liz Waldner
Liz Waldner
Poet Liz Waldner won the 2000 James Laughlin Award...
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Adjunct

 
by Liz Waldner

The tomato plant is like a seven-story city hewn from the rock of the desert. 
It weeps.

It volunteered. I hate tomatoes and the way the plant smells
but it is alive so I let it be.

And so it towers haggard over other better December vegetables,
its top blacked by the first frost

despite my bed sheet.
Either nobody wants me

or they want me to save them and believe
I can. This seems to be history.

Or math: mantissa, L. makeweight, part of an algorithm
of little or no importance.  Sad.

It works that way.  They get me to pull myself up like a weed
via my wish to be loved.  Undone, I volunteer.

I'm forced like the bulbs on stones in a bowl
in the middle of some vast and cold expanse of perfect

polished dining room table, gloss and winter in the kind of house
Iíll never live in and no kin, no kind of house will I ever own, who

turns on the water heater only when I want a bath which is seldom since
in the kitchen where I live when not asleep it is 58 degrees

which is what I can afford so I have to move again 
when I donít have any more roots to lose and am blackened too

by Just What Happens.
                                               If only a horse would come to my door.

Warm body, wet nose, white breath curved against my face
in wet night air, I would climb its seven-story back

and press my face into its coarse horse-smell mane and holding on
be-with forever, all over the earth, in its green places

until a car hit us or old age or a broken leg at the cottonwood fallen
by the stream where not the speckled trout cold and deep

nor the shadow that startled it into sleeking but the wolf
that cast the shadow scared this horse and me and then

I would love this wolf as I could never love a car
and lie on the ground and believe the ground volunteered

itself for me and I would love the smell of the earth in my belief
the scratch of grass pressed hard to my face in my belief

and abide, remain, stay forever inside my body in my belief
where I fell to earth a refugee from a seven-story life I could
     not make green

a volunteer myself 
for its stone, its sand, or ruin.
				

				

				
				






First published in The Journal. Copyright © 2009 by Liz Waldner. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.
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