The Gathering

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Always I have been a cottonwood in May,  
when the swollen pod  
bursts and everywhere the air goes white,  
all lawns returning  
winterward under that burden of yearning 
seeds that long for lodging anywhere  
and by the million die in flight  
into the river, pavement, alleys, air.  

Now I must learn to be the island instead  
which grew itself by grains from the bed  
of the farewell river, lasting by staying put  
and gathering whatever stuck ---- 
collecting things the world thought were no good,  
squeezing filth and death and junk so tight  
they fused into a single stone that struck  
sparks, the leaping green of cottonwood.