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  • Butter Up, Morning GloryMiddletown, CA, Harbin Hot Springs
  • Tiffany Higgins (bio)

of course there is infinite joy in the gardenhave you heard it at 6 a.m.?

(not that patch by the condobut the one that by 7 is in full amoroso)

or even at 8: Time waits for no onecan be heard in the beaks of the birds

whose thirst to squawk and say early and often—to communicate — predates ours (silly humans)

Lake County, Cal.: Middletown, mundane namefor a mountain hamlet out of cell phone range

when amidst the musical chorus of ornithian morningyou think you hear your IThing marimba

“text arrived!!” (flush of excitement) it can only indicatehow far you’ve allowed your brain to derange

its circuits hooked to far off towers—Come back, Come back, Morning Glory!

you flinch to check what’s new in emailthen relent: there is nothing to check

only surround sound, evolving storyof squirrels scurrying across branch, chittering

avifauna, some low, some high — a real show off in that tree—cicadas’ bass — melodic passages— [End Page 618]

dynamic landscape in percussive symphony—of which you are not removed observer—

for did you know a tree knows    when you wear a yellowshirt or red? i.e. it sees you:

you’re not the only seer here. it sees you back.for it learned how to judge light, assess threats

to know when to close and when to flowerwhen to bend toward The Light, which is what it eats:

epistemic sustenance. you’re part of that.spiders are out on the path, bumblebees thick

as thumbs buzz pink vines of Sweet Pea:bee gets, yes, but in seeking and getting gives energy:

let me fumble my black lips across the nippleof your pistil: reciprocity

the air is the text the yellow swallowtail weaves:butter dips and lifts through green.

a woodpecker tender bends ear to trunk and drills.artist, it will carve in the middle of what is solid—

dear wood — a spirit hole. others will use to will make of this world a home.

someone opens bamboo gate down to temple.sun heats sweet grass to scent

and also rays the lips    of my vagina between my open legs

knees drawn up here on this bench    as I unspool this story to you [End Page 619]

wind ruffles leaves of poplars—and though from the valley back-hoe bleeps constructive intent

rearranges soil, with a swipe clears what once just a moment ago grew—I still feel somehow dream protection

in the web of what wind — through oval leaves, half silver, half green,to and fro — is speaking

of what cicadas mean in abdominal tymbals’ flick and rubsomehow feel lexemes denoted, intended

brisk hub of rising languagein the morning meadow field [End Page 620]

Tiffany Higgins

tiffany higgins is the author of And Aeneas Stares into Her Helmet, selected by Evie Shockley as winner of the Carolina Wren Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, From the Fishhouse, and others, as well as Ghost Fishing, an anthology of ecojustice poems. She is a translator of contemporary Brazilian writers and teaches English at several colleges in the San Francisco Bay area.


This poem was written in June 2014. On September 13, 2015, this area was overtaken by the Valley Fire, fed by near-zero humidity in brush and trees due to four years of drought in California. The towns of Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake, including the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, were evacuated. As of September 14, 2015, more than 400 homes and businesses had burned down in the Middletown area. The Valley Fire had burned 61,000 acres in three counties and was only 5 percent contained. I wish the best for the residents and the animals of all kinds who have been affected.



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pp. 618-620
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