I do not know how to heal the earth
by Julia Klatt Singer

I pull the nail
that has gone through his shoe
into his foot

Out with my thumb and index finger
(grateful I didn’t need to use a hammer.)
Its takes the pain with it.

When he falls from the monkey bars
and bruises his knees
we watch as the colors

Shift from midnight blue
to olive, then, the yellow
we name pickled mustard.

We name the fall
How to make a sunset
with a body.

That night I dream my city becomes
a forest. Pines usher us in
to the maple and birch groves.

We walk broken sidewalks lined with pear and apple trees.
Ride with a fig in the elevator to the top floor
where aspens quake in the wind.

We eat the air.
We drink the rain.
We let the light leave.

We love the light
but we let it go. Know we will find it
resting on the edge of snow, trapped

in ice. I do not know how to heal the earth
only to love it.
I follow the light through the leaves

Lay with it in the velvet grass,
find the world
in a drop of water.

PAINTING: Landscape at Fontainebleau Forest by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1876).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I work at a preschool, so there’s a fair amount of healing that goes on.  Usually a hug or ice pack, followed by a bandage, does it. And for days following a bump or blister, we talk about the healing. I also have two grown boys and vividly remember the accidents and blood that followed. Even with time, we do not forget some of them. Always, the intention to do no more harm. To acknowledge the pain, the time things take, and the incredible work of healing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julia Klatt Singer is co-author of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul (Coffee House Press), author of In the Dreamed of Places (Naissance Press), A Tangled Path to Heaven, Untranslatable (North Star Press), and Elemental (Prolific Press) poems written to the periodic table. Audio poems from Elemental are at OpenKim as the element Sp. She’s co-written numerous songs with composers Craig Carnahan, Jocelyn Hagen, and Tim Takach. She is the poet in residence at Grace Neighborhood Nursery School.