BY: Maxima Kahn

The gold prickled ball of the gazania
             enters my eye like a pain
being absorbed. A few bright wrinkled
             petals droop from this spiky net
for catching sunlight like withered fingers
             gesturing in sign a fervent language.

What I want to say is
             how the coleus’ variegated leaves of
green and—what is that color?—
             some shade of coral ripple
in a passing breeze. Not that,
             but how it pierces me. Not
the things themselves in their outrageous
             simple glory but the sharpness
with which they enter me, the quiet
             decimation I wish I could detail.

The bee crawls over the gazania,
             tiny legs working, translucent wings
quivering. Light slopes over the curved
             back of a patio chair, designs
of deep shadow make an elaborate
             modernist brocade. How far beyond enough
that is. How sunlight warms each
             living thing, dried oak leaves braid
a lavish carpet. And this
             one bird whistling breaks my heart.

Maxima Kahn‘s first full-length book of poems, Fierce Aria, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in Summer 2020. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The Louisville Review, Euphony Journal, Entropy, Citron Review, Sweet, Wisconsin Review, and Spillway, among many others. A recipient of fellowships and scholarships to the Vermont Studio Center and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, she has twice been nominated for Best of the Net. Having taught creative writing at the University of California Davis extension, she now teaches and blogs at You can follow her creative process at