CAVE IN

CAVE IN

 

Whose tears began it?

Whose weight will end it?

An emptiness not of my making.

A breaking through to danger and stone,

blind salamanders, white crabs.

All hollows, the invisible flowing below.

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ORDINARY BIRDS

A few years old.

 

ORDINARY BIRDS

Go early, our friends told us,

just before sunrise, when the light

above the mountains is a pink line

that slowly turns yellow, then gold,

and the sun sends up a long pale pillar.

Then the geese will rise, calling,

against the sky.

You can hear the whisper of their wings.

 

We went to see the geese,

early,  Orion and the waning sickle moon

still in the deep blue sky.  We heard

very far away, the geese muttering

in a low wet place, waiting for dawn.

The sky turned pink, and the sun

sent up its shaft of light, and the gray

clouds thickened and the light

shut down.  We stood in the shelter

 

against the south wind.  The geese

we came to see did not rise.

Overhead in the rafters,  little birds

were waking:  a grackle, house sparrows,

one young brown cowbird.  They shook

themselves, preened their feathers,

murmured their unthrilling music–

ordinary birds, plain birds,

in the gray morning,

waking one by one.

 

published in Penwood Review, Fall, 2008

THE YEAR THE APPLES FELL

I wrote this back when I was picking apples at my neighbor’s orchard.

 

THE YEAR THE APPLES FELL

That was the year the apples fell into my bag

no matter what I did.

I would bump up against a limb

and they’d shake loose,

roll down my brown-sweatered arm,

glance off my shoulder

and into the turquoise canvas.

The bag filled, and filled.

 

The year before–most years–

those loosened apples hit the ground

and I left them to wasps, mice,

possums, the foraging deer.

Some of those years–the one

my sister died, or the one my folks left

the old house for the condo and we salvaged

perennials from my mother’s garden

and tried not to cry–it seemed

all the apples were wasted like that,

every last one.  But this year,

for a change, something different.

 

I stood under each tree looking up,

bemused, as one by one the globules fell

red and ready, like blessings,

like easy autumn dreams.

 

Nov. 21, 2002

Published in Connecticut River Review, July/August 2004

POPPING JEWELWEED

POPPING JEWELWEED

 

I didn’t when I was a child. Dad showed me

how when I was well-grown. We were in Newport,

Lake Memphremagog, at my uncle’s camp.

Mist on the water—that water always

cold. Fish under the dock. The old canoes

pulled up on the shore, the brick fireplace

where we toasted marshmallows. The big jug

of drinking water brought from town. Sarah

and I went to Canada once, to buy

fireworks we smuggled back in a beach bag.

A long time ago. The camp is gone, Dad

and Uncle Colin, too. But this morning,

I popped jewelweed along a path I walk

now, by a river. Mist on the water.

VOWELS WITH MEGAN

A few years ago, I was mentor for a high school student working on poetry. We did assignments together. Here is my poem about the vowels.

 

A shaft of orange light, unexpected

before the end of

a long gray day

 

Eel black, luminescent

through the thick green river

 

I am winter-pale peach,

being, thatched with white and black

 

O luminous apple-green:

Mutsu, Greening, unripe Mac

 

YoU are fresh and blue,

tinged with the scent

of summer clover

 

And Y is it sometimes silver,

sometimes jade,

flickering just on the edge

of visible light?

 

 

Dec. 12, 2006