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Milkweed Sonnets

Among my sonnets are eight that are about milkweed; I include them below for you to read whenever you have the time. Hope you enjoy.



As I put my nose in milkweed blossoms
their resemblance to lilacs reminding
me now of the cold early spring sniffing
up the heavy fragrance happily some
bees move around me in such a good mood
none of them try to sting and keep humming
along my skin and the flower grazing
and finding there what will be honey food.
Fluttering butterfly startling my eyes
sticks its slender black thin proboscis in
the abundant overflowing. Walking
home patchouli’s in the air, a surprise
that’s wonderful because I like the smell
but if you don’t, it must be living hell.



Music turned off, I look at milkweed pods
Howlin’ Wolf vanishing back into time.
They were all purple flowers the first time
I saw them. On returning they are not
resembling spiky space ships now the shape
and color of okra, though near the top
they are turning purple where the sun stops
first to touch them. In ageless light they’ve aged.
Time’s a gentle rape, the bruise the color
of the lilac spring autumn’s beginning.
I was listening to a dead man sing
and accompanied him on another
song. In memory the sweet blossom stays
though at its stem not a petal remains.



At a distance covered by the early
morning snow they look like celestial
angels prepared soon to hover over
the manger of some unwanted savior
sleeping and warm in swaddled clothes. On closer
inspection they are only milkweed pods
whose husks cracked open and exposed white fluff
rain soaked and snow froze, seeds black as tadpoles.
They all seem natural as flying birds
on high though not alive allowing life
to take flight from their broken gaping sides.
Gutting themselves they died yet tomorrow
the sunny cold will come to dry their fluff
and wind will take them up like making love.



On a milkweed pod there is a tuft of
seeded fluff clinging like a terrified
hysteric dangling from a cliff. I huff
and puff but it won’t let go and take flight
from its husk, dry and brittle broken stuff
that it clutches desperately to stay
until my urging breath blows strong enough
to send it off. Up it goes, out—Away!
Then like an inconsistent memory
or second thought it spins and turns around
coming back down from where it came now free
to idle in the leaves on the cold ground
where any birth seems to be frozen yet
white and trembling and resembling death.



Out of the old dead roots comes life itself.
Milkweed shoots shooting up from the cold ground
have made my mourning happy to have found
them here unfolding leaves out of themselves.
Where do we go after we’ve departed?
I’ve been wanting to find her, my old teacher.
She told me I could write, my believer.
Without her there wouldn’t be any art.
Now that she’s gone I want to walk and talk
again along this mountain road. We’d see
in sprouting milkweed there is poetry
her words as well as mine these written stalks
a poem where she has gone. We’d talk of how
one way or the other life is travel.



There is almost nothing left of it, a
solitary tortuous—No, tortured—
stem, twisted pods at the tip of the rod
broken off, the pinnacle gone, toppled
but not completely down; it’s still holding
on by a thread wound round itself sticking
to the stalk, dried up tufts that never got
to float in the wind, but stayed stuck instead
though most of their dark seeds have fallen now
germinating in the very same ground
where they were born. I write this with a script
so cold and thin and sloppily written
if I don’t rewrite it when I get home
no one will ever know what I just wrote.



I can’t find the spring. I did know these woods
but what was once wild somebody bought and
fenced off. Paths grew shut and where milkweed stood
along the old road the county came and
cut it down. It’s not there to write about
except of course that it’s not there to write
about. At the spring I’ll silently shout
when my shivering face in a circle of sky
gives way to trees in my cupped hand. That’s when
I can start swallowing and have my fill.
The trick is not to turn back, but go on
and take the time to stop and watch until
a flock of wild turkeys under a tree
run in the shadows and become the leaves.



Most of our fears are very silly. Last
year the state trimmed along the mountain roads
and then no milkweed grew and this was so
because everywhere I looked it looked as
if there never had been any milkweed.
My mother was dead, that was the present.
But back from Scotland now in the present
I see more milkweed than I’ve ever seen.
Virtual fields of it nod in the wind
and the weight of the sucking bees hanging
from them humming in the sunny beams
on every purple limb beginning
to give this morning fragrance not sadly
for a flowery funeral, but for me.



So far this morning there’ve been lesbians
saddling up their horses, a gold tiny
feather that had fallen, and a sunny
bunny close enough to see the dark veins
run thin and red through its translucent ears
before it hopped away. The lesbians
are coming through the trees. I imagine
them bare-breasted about to appear
in a chorus of birds. I am so glad
I’m here. This mountainside is freeing
me from ambition’s leash and worrying.
It’s the milkweed I think. Last year, a sad
year I thought it was no longer here
but I see bees and blossoms everywhere.



Milkweed by Akram


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