The surrealist Man Ray painted
his lover’s lips for three years.

One single brushstroke a day.
Giant lips in the painting

Hindenburg across a broken sky.
It didn’t work. He glued a photo

of his lover’s eye to a metronome,
and wept beneath it for months,

willing a halt to the acidic tick.
Darwin grew a weed garden

of seeds scraped from the claws
of migrating birds. Heartbreak

triumphed over enchantment.
But pollen can circumnavigate.

You waved goodbye and said
there is no we. Once, we planted

a single bean in a milk carton.
The stem raised the seed, cracked

awake like two baby green palms.
We loved unpacking a milkweed,

the parachutes of passenger silk—
we flung them at folly. I whisper

your name into silk each morning.

By Tom Paine