What injures the hive injures the bee, says Marcus Aurelius. I say not wanting to hurt another, this late, should maybe more than count, still, as a form of love. Be wild. Bewilder. Not that they hadn’t, of course, known unkindnesses, and been themselves unkind. When the willow’s leaves, back again, unfold all along their branches, the branches routinely in turn brushing then lifting
away from the pond’s face, it’s too late. Last night I doubted as I’ve not doubted myself in years: knowing a thing seemed worthless next to knowing the difference between many things, the fox from the hounds, persuasion from the trust required to fall asleep beside a stranger; who I am, and how I treated you, and how you feel. So that it almost seemed they’d either forgotten or agreed without
saying so to pretend they had. Did you know there’s an actual plant called honesty, for its seedpods, how you can see straight through? Though they’d been told the entire grove would die eventually, they refused to believe it. The face in sleep, like a wish wasted. To the wings at first a slight unsteadiness; then barely any. What if forgetting’s not like that—instead, stampeding, panicked, just a ghost choir: of legends,
and rumors, of the myths forged from memory—what’s true, and isn’t— that we make of ourselves and, even worse, of others. Not the all-but- muscular ache, the inner sweep of woundedness; no. Not tonight. Say the part again about the bluer flower, black at the edges. I’ve always loved that part. Skull of an ox, from which a smattering of stars keeps rising. How they decided never to use surrender as a word again.