Because I Am a Wave Attached to an Ocean Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Rainer Maria Rilke To remind myself why I write, I remember the golden eagle I saw in an oak tree watching me. I remember the rattlesnake coiled around a fence rattling, a fox so close on the trail I could almost reach out to stroke its coat of reddish fur that swirled in the shade trees. It was near a lake with an abundance of skate ray fish flapping their wings at the water’s surface. Because there is nothing else to do about loveliness than to bow down and worship it. Because I am a hose attached to a spigot of images dying to explain why there is so much suffering in a world that offers us this much beauty. To remind myself why I write, I imagine how a heart dishes out its love to swim in a lake with skate ray fish and their wings. How my heart could be out there in the water and also inside my chest. My heart, queen of the pond! While really, I’m at my desk pressing keys with white letters on dark gray background because. Because I am a waterfall attached to a river of spirits calling my name, Phyllis. Or maybe it’s Rilke with his advice. Maybe it’s the fox who stood still as a photograph in his foxy fur coat and whispered without words, Phyllis, write, and didn’t say why, but a door opened and I walked through. Still Standing —For Perie I went to bed with words germinating, climbing in and out of each breath, and woke up in a metaphor about you. I must have written this in my sleep and now it’s going to appear on a page vivid as the vermillion vase I saw at the Crocker Museum on my weekend in Sacramento. I was visiting with two poetry darlings of mine, and we said, Let’s find something to write about. Isn’t everything something to write about? I got caught up with a vase—so big, with its beautiful ceramic belly all etched with a queen of the night cactus flower, the kind that blooms only in the dark, and dies that next morning,. You would have liked it also, I think. Maybe it’s the paradox, to capture a thing so fleeting and carve it into a red eternity. I went to a garden in my mind where these flowers were spewing their voluptuous scents, and I watched transfixed in the moonlight as they slipped away. Here I am back to the precious withering, houses burned, lost loves shaking down the rooms of a body’s house. And here we are you and I, survivors, old mountains, fir trees of love.