Inaugural

Now is the time
to be generous,
now is the time to be brave
and patient,
to watch how the dove
tails up, blinks, sits
tight over invisible eggs.

Now is the time to protect,
a time to risk,
now is the time to mother,
to become curious,
now is the time to father,
the time to be a child
and hear the world’s
breath striped as a zebra,
now is the time to caulk blood
and worship water.

Now is the time to build,
to speckle and spackle
enough love to keep the species,
all the species
going, now is the time to listen
to a porcupine,
follow a lizard,
now is the time to undress,
now is the time to redress,

dance to the music of our youth
as if we’re still young
accepting our turtle bodies.
Now is the time to hear our children’s music.

Now is the time to grow garlic
and give it away,
to see time as a lover,
acrobatic, responsive, torso
familiar as a soft vowel.

Now is the time to remember when you were an animal
lying in a field in the warm horse snort,
newly cut grass turning to hay.

Now is still the time to lie down in the street
to stop war and also construct new
consonants out of carrots, cement, unknown
particles, and compassion, shielding that
word in the body as the closest companion,
the time to build windows
ushering edible light and to mirror
the bonobo.

Now is the time to knock on the door of
a neighbor whose mouth and hands
you’ve never studied as she speaks her
map of days from the corners of her mouth
to the opening of her palm,

a time to inhale the swallows’ cacophony
in treetops and imagine the listening
of a whole world.

-Kathy Engel

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