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On A Southern Snow Day

25 Feb

we observe a Carolina housecat’s stitched together steps,
     open the back door to a bounty of bleached
          yarn in the yard now treadled by her feet.
     Herds of long necked dinosaur clouds,
icicles on the eves, and gray paws
     quick to pick and batten January string
          are a woven hope—a single surety of Spring.

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Log

24 Feb

The green pond wrinkles
where the turtle left
behind the white log

Housepainter’s Exhibit

29 Oct

These green towers are soon to be pyres,
their sparks and embers falling from the sky.

But for now, ripe acorns are unsteady hail
and one ricochets the roof to my paint pail.

Brush in abeyance, I extract the now white
nut, settle it on a windowsill to dry

then, on lunch, coat another dozen or so,
leave the pointy pearls in a row

set on two dry leaves and a wicker table.
Perhaps the customer will notice and be able

to receive this, the smallest of small signs.
Perhaps she still believes in acorn rhymes.

The Water Oak

22 Nov

My first son and I, both of us long limbed,
just can grasp hands around the rough bosom
of the old water oak out front.  On its south side
large low branches have been removed
and rot makes dark hovels of the collar cuts.
Further up, fractured gray bones jut
desiccated among lithe green leaves.
 
By wind and years once pliant arms succumb,
dropping to the roof or lawn.  And as I gather
for a fire, I pray the long ominous bough
hung with mistletoe to endure over the corner
that is the boys’ room.  This prayer arose
even before the broken top that blew and caught,
hidden, in the last tree my logger father felled.

Prudence demands hiring a company
of men to prune danger hanging from above
though mercy blows extravagant on the breeze
and chainsaws cannot cleave that dominion.
Nearby roots of a younger oak, still growing,
are made known by a crack in the foundation
and a bow in the boys’ north bedroom wall. 

All of us who live within the province of oaks
must contend with the wind, and the creak
of limbs, as we stoop to gather sticks
and broken beauty.  All of us carry
or receive unwelcome news of doom falling
and must permit the reach and roots of trees
to subdue suddenly, or by slow degrees.

Dickinsonbird

9 Aug

…not a creature failed–
No Blossom stayed away…
~Emily Dickinson

Mockingbird, where do you begin
and which are the sources of your spring?
Curious the clouds that fill your well.

Veiled in drab plumes you seem a jest.
No man, by sight alone, could guess
your sung surprise, your unexpected spell.

Curious the clouds and dark the dirt
that nourish and expose your verse—
a crown and trunk rise from buried root.

          I am beguiled and beguiler, but you!
a winged prophet, a truth-teller,
a humble stump bearing lovely fruit.

Capably you quip; you chirp and charm
until by feathered phrase and turn
I lift my head. You offer a reward

to the trespassed and trespasser: a place
where grief and glory have a face
and your dull body pierces like a sword.

Trail Run

1 Dec

Gray squirrels rustling dry leaves
Skirt runners’ feet on the course;

A tolerant turtle parks and waits. 
But pale blue petals dappling dirt

Lie, and I trample the butterflies.
A crowd of survivor wings rises,

Blinking—the enduring blue
Eyelashes a buttress for my knees.

Rising

22 Feb

She rubs mist from her drab face,
yawns as the granite moon descends,

ripples and shivers while embers,
buried by night, are stoked and blown. 

    From ash a yellow lobe will rise,
will hold itself, poised, in her reflection.
 
She joins leaf and limb, heralds again
the return of daylight and birdsong,

flaunts her glints and ruffles, beckons
one who, too long, has been gone. 

August Night

22 Feb

Watched by stars we lay reposed, settled on the sod.
The breeze leans—cinder clouds respond as to a prod.

You ask aloud, is smallness good?  I give a little nod
and look up from our cul-de-sac into the face of God.

A thread of light, bluish white, silently is flown—a stitch
to gather tats and rags, to hem our flesh and bones.

Grains of sand ride the sky, a moment they are shown.
We lay reposed, settled, and longing to be sewn.

Curse

29 Oct

An ocean: reaction, a dingy: satisfaction
with wind and wave upon its wooden side.  

We founder in deceit, we curse our hands and feet,
and sink beneath the swell of Adam’s pride.

Elephant

27 Oct

The elephant, the thick-heavy wrinkle,
Shows no movement.  
He stands in the room like a defendant.
Like old boots in a box, he may not walk again.  

I’d like to read, or watch TV, but there he is.  
The crushed sofa, the mangled love seat—
There’s no place to be.  
So, busily, we make the elephant a pet.

Busily, busily we ignore and he remains.  
Once, I reach around him.
Twice, you try to find me and (I know)
There’s almost-absolutely-no-one there.  

The ghost of my shadow tells you
To not worry the beast,
To not even think of mice or make a move
That might disrupt the elephanty peace.  

And though we want to forgive,
We cannot forget HIM.  
So, we go on tiptoe while he stands there:
A sad-sturdy brow and four enormous feet.

Sugarhouse

3 Mar

I helped to build our sugarhouse.
It has a metal roof. Steam escapes
through vent doors on the cupola.

We drill the trees, set the taps,
and hang buckets. When sap runs,
gather it and light the fire.

Slab wood pops and flames roar.
The firebox doors turn orange
and the evaporator boils.

When syrup aprons—when drops cling
and fall together from a dipper—
we draw off into a milk can.

My Dad works very hard.
We all chip in. The best part is
when we take a little taste now and then.

 

sugaringimg006

I grew up in Vermont.  I have many fond memories of time spent with my family making syrup in the sugarhouse we built in our backyard.  Sugaring is hard work, but very rewarding.

This poem is for my dad who worked harder than the rest of us and often stayed up late to finish the boiling by himself.

the sugarhouse

Winter Walk

1 Nov

winter-walk-(study)small

The silver paths beneath me rise, they brighten and sustain;
and I, by measured stride, rejoin their whited old refrain.

The snow, like fairest company, this night has come to call
till barren branch and evergreen are heartened by its’ fall.

Till, luminous, the moon reveals the way upon the row
and I, in bright reflection, lose my burdens as I go.

Till boots conceal their little plots of white upon the track
then rise to leave their mark upon the polished silver back.

The silver paths beneath me rise; the night is bright as day;
and I my measured stride release beneath their drift and sway.