City down to the last nuance is moss,
straightleaved, twisten, fossilized in travertine,
some that lives on rotting
wood or the sunniest crest in Central Park,
other whose resilience but for a cup of water is stifled.
Mosses don’t need to grow flowers
or fruit or wings – angels are or are not here, birds some –
to show continuous creation. They are not degenerate
but remind us of degenerousy.
They are what the imagination needs.
Bellevue, storefronts of diamond cutters,
banks, scripture on placards,
men shouting at each other in voices pure as iron
and tar, museums of modern art,
theatres, tacquerias are side by side,
but moss is what the imagination needs.
With buttermilk, cheap beer, or water
make a slurry. Spores will appear on compacted soil
if acid is high and in deep shade.
Hundreds upon hundreds of versions
and sillouettes will billow forth,
in a green cosmos turrets, hair arrows,
flames and fans
to grapple with nothing it has yet known.
Four Pushcart Prize anthologies have published poems by Carol Frost, and Poetry, Shenendoah, Gettysburg Review, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Subtropics, and Kenyon Review; poems forthcoming in The New Republic and an essay on Wallace Stevens in New England Review. Entwined: Three Lyric Sequences, her twelfth collection, appeared this fall from Tupelo Press. She teaches at Rollins College, where she is the Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Alfond Professor of English and she directs Winter with the Writers, a yearly literary festival.