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