The Instinct to Swarm
by Wang Ping
The ones in the brain
that allow us to make decisions, not just
about what to order for lunch, but about basic perceptions —
making sense of the flood of signals coming from the eyes
or hearts, struggling for balance, juggling
between time and space, two houses across
the river of stars. Eye of the storm —
the small chime turns in the cloud, its copper heart
swinging left to right, right to left.
The old lawn mower roars with fresh gas,
and the grass, smelling like hay rolling into the sea,
brings tears to the eyes. “She weeps when she thinks of
her lover at sunset,” her son confirms.
How does a heart heal? The answer may lie
in the inner swarm, tangled, running ahead of time.
How does our brain see what we see?
Or feel? How do we not run from pain, but stand
face to face? It’s been four months since April,
the cruelest of all. The trees are still green,
and birds still singing, but the grass is littered
with thorny shells of acorns, biting hands and feet
as I dig weeds with a steak knife. Every day,
I must learn how to live again, or love
between woodpeckers’ knocking and bleeding twilight.
Breathe. Hands under thighs.
I wish you only goodness and safety.
I wish all sentient beings good and safe — is my prayer
for you, for us. Our bodies apart, but the minds
still twine, with hearts as a metronome, ticking ¾ time.
I have taken off my watch long ago. Our hammock
hangs between the mesh of rope and net of lights,
flickering from the far north.