Archive | April 2011

Workaday

3:30 a.m. —
Watch a spider
Ascend a foggy thread
In the alarm-clock light.
The rumbling of a train
Wrecks the silent distance,
And I wonder
At these careful, careless webs.
Tie it together.

The robin
Downbeat, upbeat
Then trill —
Before first light.
Tie it together.

The cardinals join
In peachflesh dawn —
Variations on a theme.
The feathertop grass,
Its seeds all spent,
Beckons as I pass by.
And the dew shines like glass —
Like silver beads.
Tie it together.
Find a guitar string
And tie it together.

The woman strapped
To the beast behind
Uses a blood pause —
Paints a mask.
And a western man
Adjusts the shade
Then shows me
A single,
Perfectly manicured,
Finger.
I was too slow
To resist
The turning web.
So I damn it
And tie it together.

The maple flowers —
Electric! —
Against a sky so blue
It hurts.
I never thought you spoke
In the sunlight.
In the silver box
I pray against the trap.
And I wonder at the cause
Of all this weeping.
Does it rejoice?
Or lament things left
By the side of the road?
One more knot in the net.
And then ask this:
Who looks at my web
And wonders
At its foggy minuteness?

The Diconnect

We could see
Your deepening darkness
As shadow-eyed
You tried to catch a glimpse
Of orange window-light —
The message
That says
Change.

Locked in a
Windowless room,
The voices grew
Too tumultuous
For the signal you sought
To be heard.
We tried everything we knew
To quiet them —
But the sirens
Have a mind of their own.

We were so vain.
Al branches and leaves
Struggling to breathe —
And bricked-in roots
Could not reach.

Needed to go deeper
To find that red vein
Beneath the bedrock
That connects all
To all.
The looked-for beginning,
And the reason why
Our steps always faltered
Into forgetfulness.

But you held on
To what you could not see,
But wanted to touch —
To feel.
You could hear their whispers
Through howling winds.
(Your listening sense
Was always sharp.)

And we did not know why
You kept forgiving us
For being human —
Because we could not forgive
Ourselves.

And in your dark mercy
The voices would soften —
And we would see
That orange light again.
Clear-eyed
We thought we might
Puncture the barriers.
In just that second
Of judgment-free silence,
All of the knots were loosened,
And our hands were free.

Please,
Take this spade.
Dig the hole deeper
This time.
Give us a season
To strengthen our roots.
Then we will find a way
To tap that aquifer.
We will carry you down
On our rough-skinned
Hidden branches.
Together we’ll swim
The river underground.

Free Her

My back was already breaking
When her winds died down.
How desperately I needed to laugh —
Or to cry out —
Or to wear any face
Other than the stone mask,
As the second allowed his anger
To wax cruelly.

We tried to fill the sails again,
But the waiting
Was interminable.

And I’m sorry
Now
That I nourished the seed of your suffering.
But I was selfish
And longed
For your light
To pierce my cloudy days.

And now we two stand —
Shocked —
Bent-backed —
With twisted mouths —
Aghast
At what we have done.
While you,
My sweet little bird
Are the first voice
Rising to the morning sun.
You learn to grow into your wings
And find those paths
That we lost.

I rubbed the dead leaves into my skin
Tied bits of gray cloud into the knots in my hair
And I cast my bones
Down upon the altar.
Gladly
Would I bear this for you.
In the deepening dark
I would step under his blind eye
And ask for a mercy
Or a way to take your place
Before the stone.
Let it come to me,
I asked.

She will keep singing
The sun from her slumber —
Her trills,
Like blades in my heart.
I will watch from below as she wings
Across the marsh
To that nest
Hidden in reeds.

Look now,
The creek has broken its banks
And flooded the fields.
We cannot rest here.
But I will throw myself under
To spare you.

Beckon

All shades of gray
And naked oaks —
Stoic in the rain —
Just a backdrop
As you wonder
Where that horse might be.

Black mane lost
In clouded shadow,
Trembling breath in a fog,
Hooves tear spring turf.

And she was right, you know,
About the streets
When they get wet –-
Colors –-
Cloud –-
The sky.
How you miss them now.
So easy to distract, the vision,
From the sought
To the blurred-branch reflection
In puddles.

And puddles –-
Another underworld
To leap over
As you carry on
And follow
The flick of a tail
As the corner bends.

Again distracted —
Rays break through —
But it’s just a moment.
Spring-sweet on the breeze,
Those white blossoms
Promise
Berries later to soothe
Your hollow nerve.

Listen again —
Hoofbeat rhythm.
Can you smell it?
On foxfeet make your way
To that meadow
Where golden grasses roll
Like an ocean.

Conceal yourself
Here in the willow-shadow.
He stands
In breaking sunlight,
Waiting for the sound
Of your breath.

Somewhere on a high wind,
Or wave,
A balloon,
A bottle
Carries your message
To the others.

Forgive his flight
As he lowers
His head to meet your gaze.
Brief glimpses
Of meaning
Shake the stones.

No more money
Or time.
Mud cracks under the nail.
You made that hole with your bare hands.
Lay the bones there now
And sing a lullaby.
Send them to sleep.
Cover it over.