Apple Trees at Petal-Fall with Li Po

Kevin Stein Click to

Kevin Stein is the author of ten books of poetry and criticism, most recently the essays Poetry’s Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age and Sufficiency of the Actual. His collectionAmerican Ghost Roses (Illinois, 2005) won the Society of Midland’s Authors’ Poetry Award in 2006. He currently serves as Illinois Poet Laureate.

That a cardinal’s bright dart alights upon the branch
means Non cogito, ergo sum —
I don’t think, therefore I am. 

But that’s not Mandarin!
Still the tree’s petal-fall dusts us angelic,
our arms feathered wings.

A fool’s errand, this search for meaning,
metaphor the bed we lie and awaken in.
Hey there, get off our cloud!

In this we grow lonely though not alone,
the way my Cortland shimmers
in a cloud of her own making.

I know what I said.  I said her.
You’d like to know what I make
of her secret, also ours.

Try this: forget the fate we’ll share,
warm from the oven of our unmaking,
soon these limbs winter bare.

Just don’t, let’s say,
our arms petaled feathers.
This once: Don’t think.