Jane Zwart

At the perennial exchange
July 21, 2020 Zwart Jane

At the perennial exchange


At the perennial exchange, you will swap half a hosta
for a clump of obedient plant. It will spread like the clap.
Repainting the porch, you’ll scrape the paper wasps’ nest,
going to fossil, from the soffit going to rot. And though
not a single wasp will have made that nest his sarcophagus—
and you’ll know this having pulled apart
its ash geometry, primed to sprint
but standing still—
still, give the wasps a month. They’ll cram the eaves with cubicles
just like they did before.
You will call a man to tuck-point the bricks
and he will wedge the mortar in, perplexing seeds
and ants. But ants and seeds pledge fraternities
fit to dwarf your mason’s guild.
You’ll ask yourself if it is different for people who compost.
Do they see as abundance
what you see as rot? They do.
But the half-truth they know and the one you do
will not add up. Between upkeep
and breakdown lies a split-second of being, exactly
ripe. It will keep slipping out of your hands.

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and Poetry, as well as other journals and magazines.