Made of molecules

I take for granted that the earth is solid the idea of permanence seductive as I move about checking the time going here going there the small chores and pleasures of daily interaction shaken when the lanterns in the Hunan restaurant suddenly begin to sway and we all run outside remembering that the reliable ground under our feet can suddenly shift that the Live Oak with its wrinkled elephant trunk and ancient lichen its catkins and acorns reassembles itself moment to moment as if forever as if predictable as if not vulnerable as if not a continuous regrouping a notion a casual kiss that might be the last


More about the oak

It dominates the view its branches so inviting that the first thing we did was make a treehouse inside them not worried about the oak not thinking about the way each leathery leaf turns air and sunlight and water into food and draws another nanometer of water up through the channel of xylem from roots that reach deep so the trunk becomes a great reservoir and during the eight dry months of a California spring and summer and fall lets gravity pull some of its aquifer back to nourish the shallow roots around it not considering the network of rhizomes this small ecosystem of hillside not really seeing the oak at all except as ornament as tool for our human pleasure and it tolerates us as the treehouse falls into disuse and the squirrels and crows the sentinel hummingbirds survey their territory from its branches as the small humans who played there move on

Meryl Natchez

Meryl Natchez’s most recent book is a bilingual volume of translations from the Russian: Poems From the Stray Dog Café: Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Gumilev. She is co-translator of Tadeusz Borowski: Selected Poems. Her book of poems, Jade Suit, appeared in 2001. Her work has appeared in the American Journal of Poetry, ZYZZYVA, The Pinch Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Lyric, The Moth, Comstock Review, and many others. She is on the board of Marin Poetry Center and blogs at