EQUANIMITY

Something happened back when I wasn’t

looking, or maybe I was looking and didn’t care.

Maybe it happens to everyone by a certain age,

or it doesn’t matter. Or it’s what is meant

by equanimity and it’s something to strive for

only I didn’t, or at least I don’t think I did,

and yet, maybe it’s the fruit of all that prayer,

the hours on the front step with my cup,

watching the sun come up, or set.

 

 

~Solstice 2017

‘QASIDA

‘QASIDA

November. I drove through the woods alone.

The chapel had not changed—yellow stone,

pine benches, carven altar, the wide, worn

boards of the floor, pale ceilings adorned

with stenciled flowers. I watched the sun

mark the walls with pattern as it shone

through the western window, low.

Once this was a shelter from the storm

around us.  Once, with you, I won

what my heart desired. But you are gone.

On the forest paths, in shadow, once we roamed,

no need for touch or speech. Some

nights we sang by the lake while moon-

light and starlight from heaven’s dome

brushed us with silver. My voice, a golden horn,

blessed the stones with song. Oh, none

but I can praise our music well, or write this poem!

Free and wise and fair were we, born

between the mountains and the sea, who turned

the wild wood into home.

 

The Qasida is an elaborate form. This is a feeble attempt.

A NAME

A NAME

. . . Surprise is a  name of God.

~Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

Who else would bring a pair of owls

to circle my head on New Year’s night?

Or a fox to the front step

just at sunset yesterday? Who

could have handed us a little child

with round cheeks, his mother’s mouth,

his daddy’s smiling eyes?

In the gray and icy drizzle of winter,

who else would have sent a foot of snow,

north wind to slice through our dismay?

Or gathered us together

and crowned us with roses,

taught us how to sing?

LEAVES

LEAVES

 

The tree is dropping her leaves to save

herself for winter. She has nothing

to do with me. What’s the point in saving

things? The trees don’t.

Everything they need now

is underground. I will not be defined by

souvenirs. Between the pages of books

I no longer read, old leaves crumble to brown.

Memory is sepia.

Turn the leaves to ground.

NOVEMBER 10, 2016

NOVEMBER 10, 2016

 

Don’t forget the river:

it takes whatever it can carry,

drops what it can not.

 

Look up at the crows

who transform

stale bread and roadkill

into charmeuse feathers

and obsidian eyes.

 

Think of the willows.

Whenever they break,

they grow anew.

 

Remember the sunset,

the last vivid glow in the west,

yellow light under purple cloud

gilding the last of the leaves

on the east side of the garden.

 

Don’t forsake the moon

shimmering into sight above the pines.

She’s nearly full tonight.

Let all that she will become

fill you with longing for the dawn.

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