Splendor by Paula J. Lambert


The fig wasp, born pregnant,
offers herself back to the fig
and dies. My every day feels like this:
clambering out of my dreams, laden,
flitting about the world
collecting what the earth and air offer—
sunlight, the vast blues and linen whites of sky
(some days, only moist air and gray
all around me), the pain of purpled iris
exploding from the tips of their slender green spears.

I never asked for this life, what it gives,
what it takes away,
its every moment of cruelty
and joy. Still, I move through the day
greedy with want,
aching with what must be love—
what other word for this pull to return
to the slim cavern of sleep that,
entering, takes my wings
and shreds my senses
into the crazed stomping
of my daily death, letting go
of everything this day has burdened me with
and sleeping—truly, like the dead—
then waking, laden with more.


Paula J. Lambert has published several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog 2020). Awarded PEN America’s L’Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship, Lambert’s poetry and prose has been supported by the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her work has been nominated for several Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, a philosopher and technologist.

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