The Burden of Humans by Michael lavers


The grass just has to wave, the birds just have

to sing. The grapes don’t wonder what light is;

the light just lights them, and the grapes grape back.

The golden oaks just shed their summer dresses

on the lawn—but you? You have to read

Spinoza in the garden while the light

is good. You have to keep your focus as

the motorcycles scream out of the purple hills.

You have to sweat, and laugh, and weatherproof

the bedroom windows, and remember

names and dates, the town where your parents met—

Milk River or Swan Hills?—and when they died,

you have to sweep the kitchen floor and then

define the good, the true, the beautiful,

or try

, because azaleas can’t see themselves,

the squirrels are busy, and the ferns have closed.

The frost tattoos its sermon on the rose,

but in a language only you can read;

you have to know that all things pass and perish,

and that what you’ve said is finite, but continue—

as if grand exceptions might be made—

raking the leaves, stacking the wood, hoping

the child falls asleep against your chest,

hoping the blizzard swerves, knowing the wreckage

of the present will be gathered but

not soon, and not by you, because you’re in it,

there somewhere, under the sheet of snow

(c) Michael Lavers

  • Begin a poem with the words, "The grass just has to wave..."

  • What is the language only you can read?

  • How does your understanding that "all things pass and perish" affect the way you live?