“You are a hundred wild centuries”

Next to the basil and frothy dill that Spring
and the chives in obedient rows she planted catnip,

fingering the paper sleeves of seed at the garden store,
nothing but curious. For weeks afterward, she forgot.

Planting: there was her daughter’s lost tooth
(when did they start being worth five dollars? Her own

had fetched a quarter and tears), that difficult passage at
work, a brief scare over a mole, revealed to be nothing.

Planting: the hesitation of looking, what’s to come. It wasn’t
until that night, midsummer or close, spare constellations

standing on the black shaggy oak heads, rising up the hill,
and the red eye of the radio tower vivid across the sound,

that she too rose, wondering what had drawn her to
the window blind. Cats—cats were rolling in her garden,

working the earth in fierce commas with their spines,
two of them, no three, like something from a fairy story.

Summoning: undomestic as their natures were, ribby and
bitten, little buddhas who misbehaved with a pretty student

in the zendo and so came back as ragged beasts—such
feralness made one by this, all scars forgot, all alleyways

effaced. Ingathering: Why have we wept? The night comes
close, the shadows dance below in wild felicity.





William Orem’s first collection of poems, Our Purpose in Speaking, won the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize and the Rubery International Book Award. His novels and short story collections have been honored with the GLCA New Writers’ Award, the Eric Hoffer Award, the Gival Press Novel Award, and others, and his short plays have been performed internationally. Currently he is a Senior Writer in Residence at Emerson College.

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