POETS IN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ISSUE
A few streaks of magenta in the sky
and everywhere else, gray.
Overhead, frozen leaves
rattle like a typist
with a document due
by four o'clock. At dusk
starlings fly past my window
west toward the river
and the orange melt of light.
Swifts begin circling the white dome.
Floodlit, we say,
washing our own harsh light
against the blue lulling to black.
All night the swifts
cry overhead, shrill little voices
sharp with hunger.
An erg is a unit of work,
instructs my neighbor's son.
Each year I enjoy
this red oak's leaves
all winter, and every year
I forget to notice
when they fall. New leaves
come without needing my attention.
An urge is a unit of desire.
It is all work, and the least of it
calls me in.
ARGUMENT, DOLE V. ARCO
921 F.2d 484 (3d Cir. 1990)
The trees are burning, burning.
Underneath, a lawyer practices her speech:
may it please the court. Leaves fall
as if from the weight of my looking.
Berkeley said we are held suspended
in God's mind, whose forgetfulness would
be our annihilation. I cannot say this
to the court, though I am addressing
the death of an 18-year-old girl who
was blown open. The efficient cause,
a fire extinguisher, itself burning so
slowly no one noticed. Except after,
traces of the seeping fire, like the cool
fires above me. Rust she would have seen,
if they had trained her to look for it.
I will not mention love to the judges.
How it survives all the damage we inflict.
I say the ginkgo sheds her golden hair
without grief, and even this civil suit
is for love. And death a form of fruiting.
Laura Fargas practiced occupational safety and health litigation on the worker side for twenty-seven years for the Department of Labor. Her books include An Animal of the Sixth Day (Texas Tech Univ. Press, 1996). She lives in Washington, DC.
in Volume 13, Number 3, Summer 2012.