If pleasure is the absence of pain, 
then pain comes first.

In the planter outside my front door, 
a wren’s nest whorls down 

to darkness. The nestlings chirr when I pass by, 
or when the wind’s fingers brush too close, 

as if the wind and I are mothers, 
returning with meat, as if refreshed

sensation means relief from pain, 
meaning pain comes last – 

like a shadow, sleek and well-fed, 
or a body’s imprint in the bed. 
I grow to love you, dear familiar.


United States