Jasmine V. Bailey

After Ryokan
Very little wood leftbut much more winter—snow falls in a hushand trees still damagedfrom the last storm wear it.
Even now, as my life stirsbeneath me like a root,as the beloved fillsthe world like a curved screen—your embers,
quiet. I correct the childwho rushes for wateror yesterday’s paper. My househas room for everyoneas they are.

Hiking the Lake Placid Trail
I was low many timesand I drank the groundwater,
washing my hairmorning and night,swimming to islands of duck nests.
I wept bitterly at estate sales,haggling over a nice lamp,cursing
my own frivolity.It’s all a bunch of junk.I know a little more than I used to
and I still don’t care if you turn out to bea common thief.

Preparing to Leave Virginia
Some things I’ve known so longI no longer remember learning them:
lettuce, vinegar and oil make salad.The Serengeti is in Africa.Pussy willows are first in spring.
I dream I walk reciting things I knowand deer begin foraging in the clearing.
I mistook their footfall for my neighbor.
They look at me a long time,being poor judges of danger.
Sometimes what I know is no longer trueand there’s no way to tell when
the truth changed or why an airplanehigh enough can be the sound of crocuses.
No one should expect to get overblue mountains.

Jasmine V. Bailey's chapbook, Sleep and What Precedes It, won the Longleaf Press 2009 Chapbook prize and her book-length manuscript, Alexandria, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon. She is web editor for 32 Poems.