“Bouquet of Flowers,” pastel on paper, by Odilon Redon, ca. 1905.

by Karen Paul Holmes

Send it out, send it
to your mother spinning in another universe
your father too
the babies your womb wouldn’t hold
the blue heron’s six-foot span
gliding inches over Lake Blue Ridge
and its mate stepping on your dock
like someone in clown shoes
and to the flash of a fish sacrificing itself
down the long gorgeous gullet.
Drive it, thrust it, high-fly it on freshets of wind,
seed the clouds so love may rain
on every counted hair of every head.
Hurl it, fling it, fastball it to Bangladesh
to the Chakma people with a thousand lamps
lit for Buddha. To Englishmen breakfasting
on beans and eggs at an Alaskan fishing camp.
To presidents, despots, and saints, equally.
Shine it on that boy who fell
off the slide in 1965. And your scared, small self.
Let it flow, spread it on tomatoes from the honor-system
fruit stand—the red pulp salted then blessed with balsamic.
Whoosh it to the farmer who shared thusly,
trusting you to send its sweet acid unction to the world,
spilling out of lips,
exhaling from grateful pores.
Launch it, spin it out
over Shewbird Mountain’s strip-mine scar,
across Ipanema sand.
Sparkle it into the Black Sea and the twelve-hundred-
gallon koi pond in the neighbor’s yard. Flood it.
Send it out, give it out, let it spring
from you. It will come back. It will come back
brimming until your chest nearly bursts with it,
the aorta pumping, pinking ears and toes,
muscle contracting so the heart can expand
and send some more.

Karen Paul Holmes has two poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, The Slowdown and Verse Daily. Publications include Diode Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, and others. She’s the current “Poet Laura” for Tweetspeak Poetry.