Praise Darwin’s finches, doggedly reproducing until nothing is wasted. Grub-eater, cactus-eater, insect-eater. The cashier asks, paper or plastic?
I peer into my cart, envisioning oceans— gyres of hot air, whirling water sucking up bottle caps, cups, sandwich wrap.
Is this where it all winds up? Like the yellow balloon my son grasps, promptly lets go in the parking lot, flying
over a sea of trucks and cars, over our green city, where we wheel plastics to the curb, our discards shipped on barges
to China, tossed into soupy rivers that flow into town. Balloon down, Jackson demands the next day, not knowing
things can disappear. He wants them all back: his lost copy of Goodnight Moon, the melting snow cone I chucked into trees after the fair. Now this balloon.
How many tides until its resin washes up on the Beagle’s Plymouth Harbor? Or gets trapped inside transparent bodies
of Galapagos jellyfish, the colorful polymers, mistakes, fish eggs? Balloon down, Jackson reminds me a week later, standing in our
front yard, looking up at the clouds.
Consider how we’re made of carbon, those atoms, their incomplete shells always pulling us toward something—
our legs intertwined, your hands, mine. How love’s molecular architecture builds upon itself, proteins, thousands of atoms apiece:
This house, these pine trees. Dandelions spring and parsley needs mincing. Compost oxidizes behind a swing, the ropes you looped
over a branch. Our son pumps his legs, heaven-bound. He’ll be in his dreams when you come home. We are mostly empty
space, each electron in its vast orbit. Never enough time in the day. Socks hang on the line, water evaporates. I’m waiting
for you, tired from another day’s scenery under microscopes and centrifuges (the world I cannot see). The sky darkens,
but look here: this leaf, I cup its small green veins in my hand.
The Basil Erupts in Flower
The basil erupts in flower, the afternoon passes uninterrupted while your brother runs swing to sandbox to fence. I feel your persistent kicking and wince.
No longer a thought nestled inside me, you’re all heft and demanding. Now I want the names of these branching backyard trees. When your brother was conceived,
all of me was infatuated with one growing thing. For eight months, you and I have shared space, yet when I think of you, it’s only
to catch my breath or prepare something more to eat. Abundance? It used to scare me. Red clover, cabbage white butterfly, gill-over-the-ground. Silver maple, spruce.
Sara Talpos’s poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, Shenandoah, The American Poetry Journal, and Rivendell, among others. She teaches composition courses at the University of Michigan.