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Essential Music

Charlotte Innes

The flame-colored flowers you gave me yesterday
still burst upward from their glass;
and hanging down, as if to allow each petal
flaring room, are curly tongues of leaves
that graze a turtle lamp with stubby feet
just so. The turtle’s head stretches out
as though, at any minute, he might really
plod towards that jagged piece of rock
whose muddy-colored ridges set in grey
reveal a fossil tree, still here, still solidly
here, though it fell a million years ago.

So when my cat, who follows me from room
to room, has settled on the rug, I’m swamped
by thoughts that one day she and I will drop.
I think—and this is what I really think—
why worry over little things like love
and why we ask each other, will it last?
Let’s find the essential music in it—the bulb
that gives the turtle lamp its yellow glow,
the eager throats of flowers, or in that finch,
chirping the same ecstatic song for seconds,
then flying off, and chirping somewhere else.

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