Two Poems by Rae Gouirand


That which is right is sometimes excruciating.
The skin of the persimmons just turning,

seeds stashed in a junk locket, the place
you come to the place you haven’t arrived.

Every other year, a friend’s tree produces
double. With the first bite, five years one.

I used to think California was expensive.
It’s not a surprise anymore, the tree naked

but jeweled—just a treasure, just another
kind of precious junk I didn’t make,

something that will tarnish from want to
keep it. I love the fruit because the world

is bleak & almost too hard to eat. I love
to be alone. I strain to put a hand where

light has gone, light produced before
I knew the word persimmon, before I

knew the problem love would hand me,
before my hunger was a junk locket

junk chain twisted in my hand. It’s hard
to know what to do with the circles time

makes for us. What is real. What is not.
What is right even when it doesn’t fit. No

story is new, but that doesn’t mean we
know it: all fruit this strange makes thieves.



Central Valley

There was a summer I did not
feel as I once had. Had passed.

What my body told me was it was
cold. Driving home again through the hills

I recognize the valley like
openness, like openness held. Watch it

shift rain to sun, light
to fog, the hum of summer to

thick abundant fruit. Turn my head
as seeds fall easily in the rows.

Gather black eyes bristle
in hand. This is a feeling. Close.

Flowers in the space we call world
fade in the very space allowed. I am

driving again—this is mine. Thinking
of those I call by their names, thinking

sunflowers look almost like
comparisons, the soil invisible

from the road. That is life to
hold alone. I am, I recently told another,

ready to ground, to
love as hard as any thing can live,

count inelegant days of tough
consistent pain. If this is living, this

want like a harness, this sun
setting the expression of my face.


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