Here she reads two wonderful poems about our interactions with the natural world, interactions which reveal of course as much about ourselves: 'Curator of Insects' and 'Canyon Road'.
Curator of Insects
I started asking questions about how human bodies held together.
Already I was of a certain age,
and not seeing any usual patterns.
My mind had become fuzzier,
mirroring the now fuzzier vision of my eyes.
I read about hymenoptera vision,
how paper wasps and honeybees
can remember the characteristics of a human face.
And since a dragonfly had remembered me,
I knew that this is true for them as well.
Some insects live only a few hours
or a few weeks,
30 days for a fruit fly,
2 months for a horse fly.
I saw the age of the body
might never again match the stretch of its will,
and like Keats, who remarked on the fading animation of his hand
at the end of his life,
there grew a sadness for this former vivacity,
yet unlike Keats, I had joy in its release.
Some of the things I do seem to move backwards.
Others feel as if they have a spherical momentum.
As I grow older, it all appears to taper,
yet there is also a broadening,
and although this is illogical,
this is what happens to people.
The dropping away leaves space,
which quickly floods with small things
like blue-eyed dragonflies in flight,
facing me in the early morning,
or saving an ant from drowning
in a puddle of warm rainwater.
I cultivate flowers and trees for a small variety of bees,
offer them aspen and willow for when they are ailing.
They scrape the resin off the leaves
and secure it to their back legs.
A box elder bug has been resting on the base of the desk lamp for days,
his tender black limbs secured around the cord.
He is close to death, and waiting.
All my life, I tell him, I have been told I should not see the things I see,
the way I see them.
It is too late for all that now.
He turns his head and thorax toward my voice,
his opaque bead eyes red with inquiry.
From Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air by Elizabeth Jacobson. (c) 2019 by Parlor Press. Used by permission.
Driving on black ice—
I braked too hard,
spun into a 360
and then two more.
Like a boom of a sailboat,
the back of the car
slammed a dog.
In the midnight darkness
I got out to find a coyote,
his abdomen torn open.
The canine held my gaze
as I cradled his head,
one palm above his brow
the other on his snout,
and hugged him to my thigh
until the chasm
of his breath closed.
came from the animal—
yellow flecks inside his eyes
flashed for an instant
before they turned to ice.
I tucked the coyote’s cooling body
under pine brush,
covered it with snow.
Nothing is made less by dying.
Walking the next morning,
in the early fog,
I watched a Cooper’s hawk
fly up and up, above the road
to scan the world for prey,
then spiral down, effortlessly,
as if it were a single feather—
hollow shaft travelling
toward the white frost.
Canyon Road first appeared in Zocalo Public Square
Her Profile and more poems in Academy of American Poets: