WARBLERS

WARBLERS

~Maud Lewis, c. 1970

Latex on plywood

 

 

Nobody taught her a thing.

Look: the anatomy all wrong,

perspective strange, almost

iconic. But look closely:

that northern parula 

in the lilac bush—iridescent 

blue-gray wings, shaded orange

throat, bright eye, open beak—

you can almost hear him singing.

And the yellow warblers, symmetrical

in the white-dotted trees

framing the red barn.

It’s Spring, they’re saying,

and we’ve arrived.

 

END OF SPRING, 1930

END OF SPRING, 1930

~Mary Cassatt

 

The white-gowned girl is running away

from you. She has curly blonde hair.

Her feet are bare. Her pink sash

is untied and trails behind.

In her left hand she carries a yellow

basket, filled with a blur of green.

To her right, a lilac in full bloom,

each blossom rendered with careful

detail. You can hear her mother

calling on the hilltop behind you, 

but there’s something about the way

the child is moving. You know

she will not turn back.

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

 

I have just returned

but before I sleep

I must record.

 

The moon was dark,

the sky was clouded.

Earthscent was rising

 

up from the valley

into the cold air

along the ridge.

 

We came in our silence,

lit the fire in silence. 

When they arrived,

 

we sang the words

to set them free.

While we waited then

 

for the flames to die,

while we waited

in our silence

 

with the long darkness

around us, a pair

of owls called 

 

from the forest

down in the trees.

A good omen

 

for the season to come.

The flight home

was uneventful.

APRIL 10, 2019: REPORT

April 19, 2019: REPORT

 

Here in Vermont, for instance, it’s Spring. 

A robin sings in the scraggly pines

next to the drive. The sun rises through deep

pink cloud, so rain coming. Daffodil spikes,

free at last from the long weight

of snow, have pushed up through the mass of flat

leaves out by the mailbox.The dog says 

a rabbit, or something, under the yews.

The house smells like fresh coffee. The ink flows

easy, like the inconsequential

run-off brook through the woods beside the house.

The house still stands.

EVERGLADES #5

EVERGLADES #5:  May 

 (sawgrass and oil on road-kill alligator hide)

~Ray Hudson, 2017

The birds have gone.

No golden-slippered egret,

no blue-eyed cormorant,

no wading stork shielding

dark water with her wings.

Silence is absolute.

 

Mangroves 

are weary, dusty.

In the fetid pools,

mosquitoes awaken.

Already the air

is thick with heat.

 

Alligator spoor—

dinosaur track,

tail-drag—

marks the muddy flats

like the handwriting

of the blind.

WRITING ABOUT JESUS

WRITING ABOUT JESUS

~feast of the Annunciation

 

The rules don’t measure.

The untouchable saves you

and you must do the same.

Thieves and beggars at the banquet, 

obedient sheep abandoned to wolves, 

so much wasted seed.

 

Today the sun is warm on my back.

I’m waiting at the café, for my friend.

 

Star in the East

adorns the horizon,

guides around the globe to everywhere

the redeemer is laid.

That which was before the beginning,

contains the whole,

there is nothing drifting sideways 

at some unspeakable

angle, far from the fields

of gravity and love.

 

Hail Mary, 

Fear not.

Everything

matters.

 

A woman talking on her phone in the corridor 

makes a silhouette against the light.

 

The firstborn 

made flesh.

The only story 

is ours.

 

Creeds lean away, defining.

One substance—what else?

One essence, one congealment.

Do you understand?

m=E divided by the constant

through whom we live and move.

 

The sun is warm on my back and 

I must shade the page to see. 

For the time being, 

there is nothing between me and the light.

EAST OWL

EAST OWL

. . . . she must speak

to men in the language of men with a man’s tongue,

and then they will not hear her

because they understand her.

     ~Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘While the Old Men Make Ready to Kill” 

 

Aunt, I miss you.

Not many here

speak Woman.

 

Aunt, an owl keeps flying over me.

She wants me to learn to sit still,

hunt words. Wants me to focus,

lock on. I’ve seen her

dive for frogs, sit on a branch

with a green leg dangling

from her beak. I’ve found

marks of her wings in the snow.

I’ve found the blood of rabbit.

I’ve heard her singing in the dark.

 

Aunt, my hills are covered with snow.

The men still aren’t listening

but the women keep singing

for ourselves and our nieces.

Aunt, we are learning to hunt.

We are still learning to fly.

Ash Wednesday: Trusting in the Sun

Ash Wednesday: Trusting in the Sun

 

It will return. It is

returning. Six o’clock

and already the winter candle

light is not a sharp

circle on the table.

 

It was a tough

winter, a tough fall.

Four dead, my own

new scars, the surprise

of seventy years.

 

I’m needing morning

bird song—a robin,

a cardinal. I’m needing

good news. And today

the reversal—just as the sun

 

is warming through the wind,

as the maples are giving 

their juice, my old

religion makes it Lent.

Well, all right.

 

If the meat is gone,

I might as well fast.

Someday again, days

will be longer than nights.

I just have to wait.

JANUARY THAW

JANUARY THAW

   

The best snow in years,

everything shining,

simple and perfect.

It didn’t last long.

 

And now, rain. Snow to slush

to ice. I tried to tell

my old friend that winter

here is beautiful,

 

tried to get her to go out in the cold

and sun and the diamond air.

She always said that clouds

made her dizzy.

 

She died

on a sunny morning before 

the rain began.

Not a cloud in the sky.

 

 

~Remembering S.M., 10/1927-1/2019