Catherine Jagoe

First Anniversary

After W. S. Merwin

This week without knowing it I passed the day
When my last blood came to me
All flood and bloat and ache
Flush with imperatives
I will no longer mimic
The moon and tides
The pearl in oyster flesh
My womb’s retired and a certain quiet
Has set in like a tired traveler
Who nods off in a musty room
A plush red theater known for melodrama
Has shut down for good

Today in the garden after a night of spring rain
Recalling my father
Whose birthday it would have been
I hear the miniscule migrant kinglet sing
For the first time ever in this spot
A warm wind roaring like surf
The redbud’s suddenly studded magenta
The kinglet flashes the scarlet of his crown
A tiny crest a tiny strip a tiny vivid
Slash like blood and I find myself
Weeping as much for what is
As what’s not

Mayday Manifesto

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

Let the planting wait,
& the scrubbing & raking & weeding.
Let no mulch be applied.
Let the nurseries alone: they’ll be there in June.
Let the lawns not be mowed: let the sweet green
flower for once. Let no beds be dug,
let the fields lie fallow,
earth do what it will.
Let exams be unwritten,
untaken, ungraded. Let the files be unopened,
the emails unanswered, the folders stay folded.
Let’s shed all our backpacks and burdens.
Let our backs be unstooped & our stoops
be much sat on. Let’s grow fat & fecund.
Let wanton & wild be law.
Let’s saunter & loiter. Let’s hail our neighbors
& note how we’re all a shade older.
Let’s linger on sidewalks in small-talk.
Let’s inhale the air with abandon,
take long swigs of lilac.
Let crab-apple trees leave us speechless.
Let’s stroke their dark bark, press our faces to blossom.
Let’s remember, remember
how long we have waited for this.
Let moles follow their noses,
let the chipmunks refashion their chambers.
Let the robins & wrens raise their young.
Let the warblers arrive & pass through unsought-for,
uncounted, unlisted. Let’s all sleep in,
exercise indolence, wake up to birdsong, be glad.
Let the redwings take over the world.
Let weeds sprout from the cracks in the concrete,
the fox feast on chicken, the coyotes roam and guffaw.
Let the orioles weave their pendular nests
way up high, go darting & flashing.
Let the redstarts be raucous & various.
Let the young maple put out its leaves & grow tall.
Let its taproot reach deep.
Let the fern fronds uncoil into peacocks.
Let ants raise their hills, trace the turgid,
rotund buds of peonies, sucking their sap.
Let heat come, & rain.
Let magnolias drop all their clothes.
Let’s turn ourselves outward,
& stand still & listen, just listen,
trying to name every song.


Catherine Jagoe is a British-American poet, translator, and essayist. Her poems have been featured on National Public Radio in the Writer’s Almanac and also in Poetry Daily. Her new book Bloodroot won the Settlement House American Poetry Prize, the Council for Wisconsin Writers 2016 poetry book award and the Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Work in Poetry award. She translates from Spanish and Catalan, including 19th– and 20th-century novels and contemporary Uruguayan poetry. She holds a 2016 Pushcart Prize for creative nonfiction.