by Justen Ahren


When I need to see god, I watch my children sleep.
The trees in the distance
sway in the wind and snow. When I am in need,
I interrogate memories,

hold again my son’s hand in mine, see the tiny sun
in my glass of water.


I dreamt of silver buttons on their black coats.
I dreamt of snow

remaining on the coat sleeves, a moment before
melting, the fine lattice

of the snowflakes silence, miraculous
silence, the rifles aimed at

the buttons, I dreamt of
the air before the shots.


If I am a seed, are you what I open for?
And what are you now I am leafless

that for which I have lost everything?
I don’t mean to bring you down

but to ascend, what is required?
Love, do not tell me what

or who you are, I have no need of certainty.
In the search I may acquire

bright pieces, dribbles and grams.
My ignorance is your feeling

into the world as a creek. I, too, am being
gathered by a sea.

you are not remote, but always,


I met a woman last night in the Jardin just after midnight.
She introduced herself, and we sat together

on a bench. She fingered the buttons of her coat.
A child slept on her lap.

And feeling her need to talk, I let listening be my service.
That was all, I listened.

And I can’t say what, if anything more than this, I did.
And what was said, I don’t remember.

But, two strangers, we were no longer strange,
just openings between which god flew.