Viburnum

Tonight I write by the light of viburnum,
its shining rainment, radiant umbels--
the way Emerson wrote on shipboard

by sea-fire, in the middle of his prodigious
terror of the graveyard sea.
I cut the clusters early last evening

while the ghost moon's birch bark
floated overhead, and the quiet river
of neighborhood life streamed on

around me. You were not
here to see how I tied the stems
together with a yellow string

so they billowed from a sturdy center
when I set them into water in a blue
and white bowl. They hummed

in silence against the silence,
making this music that entered
and would not leave. So tonight,

as you travel a strange city's star
routes to your sister's bedside,
I plant myself solidly here, in the vast

wave of unquiet your absence
wakes, and think of our corporeal bodies,
of how the mystery of viburnum insists on

singing in mine, reflecting and holding
some luminous voice that lives inside
this otherwise empty hour

− Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize winner

"Mystery Clock 2" by Susan Kelly-DeWitt