A poem not just for tax season

Lat time I was at Squaw Valley Community of Writers I discovered that there was another poet not just from my very small town, but who lives on my short block, seven or eight houses down from me. How lucky!

Here is one of her poems:

Discussing Useful Life at the Tax Depreciation Seminar
While Remembering a Line by David Baker

The depreciable life of a parking garage is fifteen, unless its roof

is the floor of the building above it, in which case it’s thirty-nine.

Office furniture is seven, the stove five and the fax machine five.

But if a machine has its wires embedded in the wall behind it,

so they ease through the wall like veins, it can make that wall part

of the machine, thus five, as if there’s a contagion there, a life-changing

symbiosis, one function conspiring with the other, because they’re

too close to be segregated, like the heart feeding its blue canals,

or the way the lungs recycle the breath, the breath intangible,

and therefore amortized, whereas eyes, attached by a nerve,

can be pulled out from the skull like a stove from the wall,

though vision seems to take place outside the body, as if eyes

are really windows of the soul—windows, thirty-nine, but twenty-seven

and a half if residential. Which makes sense because some days

we’re an office, some days a home, but this moment I’m looking

out the window, distracted by a bee working a cherry blossom

as it wobbles in the March wind. Ah, working—that tree is an office

—thirty-nine, and those bees Descartes would call soulless machines

are five years, like all soulless machinesbut look at the way the bee

moves her body, synchronizing with the tremble of the blossom

as it shakes from a wind that soon will tear each white bud away

from its branch, just as I will leave from a garage whose roof is both roof

and floor. There is nothing that does not connect and so sustain.

I feel my hand raising up. How many years, I ask, is the wind?

Jeanne Wagner
from The Genesis Machine

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