Barbara Crooker




The sunflower cannot change what it is, it will always turn toward the sun.
Tu Fu, “Feng-Hsien Return Chant”

In French, they are les tournesols, and they do, they do, they turn to the sun,
follow the white-hot disc on its daily rounds. At night, no light, they nod
their sleepy heads, let their shoulders slump, then face the east
with hope each dawn. Brown-eyed, yellow-rayed, they rasp in the wind,
a whole section of cellos. Once, driving around a bend, I came across
a field of them bobbing, the blue sky waving madly behind them.
I wanted to stay, learn their language of oily seeds and scratchy stalks,
let the wind move through my green arms, lift my yellow hair, toss it this way
and that, my feet firm in the dirt. Feel the earth, the yoga teacher exhorts on my tape.
Feel the pulse of the planet. Be the pulse. I nod, heavy-headed, and heft my burden of light.  


Barbara Crooker has published in magazines such as Yankee, The Christian Science Monitor, Smartish Pace, and The Denver Quarterly, anthologies, including Worlds in their Words: An Anthology of Contemporary American Women Writers, and eleven chapbooks. She has won the 2005 Word Press First Book award for her first full-length book, Radiance, which was also a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize. This group of poems is from Line Dance, newly released from Word Press.


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