Winter Prompt #23: The First To

 THE FIRST TO

Winter Prompt #23

We were always doomed,

we pioneer women, plodding,

we thought, toward a new land

while the residents of the old one

were sliding grumbling into their graves.

 

The lightless caves

were full of bears,

the forests wild with tigers.

Eagles screamed and fell

from the startling sky.

Nothing was easy.

 

The young ones have not followed.

How can we blame them?

The roads we made ended,

not in the City of God

but in the broken place we started from.

 

Some of us are still here

in our Gothic stonepiles,

wrapped in albs and stoles

tending a dying fire.

 

Some of us look sideways,

step into small houses

with open doors and warm beds,

with gently lighted windows.

We are making bread, sharing wine.

 

And some of us are climbing peaks

we could not imagine

when we started our long walk.

Our music drifts down

into the cities, shakes the towers,

rings the ancient bells.

Winter Prompt #22: Crust

CRUST

Winter Prompt #22

I used to study this stuff:

mantle, crust and core.

The mantle and core poetic,

metaphor:

                  Mantle

the thin dark covering

of protection, something

a goddess might wear,

or a saint.

         Core

the golden heat—at least

golden in the texts—

at the center. The wobble,

the weight.  But

          crust

recalls chicken pox blisters,

chapped lips, skinned knees,

burnt toast on school-day

mornings. Shiftiness,

instablility. Not poetic,

only metaphorical.

ALL YOU CAN HEAR

 

 

ALL YOU CAN HEAR

“All you can hear is the wind and the stars and the fog and the snow.”

~Arthur, age 2 3/4

He can hear the stars.

His father did not ask

the sound they make.

It is too solemn a sound,

too private to describe.

Have you heard it?

After the soft snowing stops,

and Orion comes striding

through a gap in the clouds

with his dogs at his heels?

Winter Prompt #21: A Country-Western Song

 

A COUNTRY-WESTERN SONG

Winter Prompt #21

Refrain:

He came through the night,

runnin’ all alone.

All he’d had to eat

was a thrown-out chicken bone.

 

 

This old cat has seen a lot of years

From the night I saw him first—

A streak of white across the drive,

Just fur and bones, but real alive,

All hunger, fight and thirst.

 

Refrain

 

We trapped and took him to the vet

We thought we’d set him free

When he was fixed and had his shots,

But it turned out he liked us lots—

My good old man and me.

 

Refrain

 

So now he’s sleeping on the chair

All full of fish and cream.

It goes to show that any stray

Just needs a hand along the way

To realize his dream.

 

Refrain, fading. . . .

Winter Prompt #20: Bivouac

BIVOUAC

Winter Prompt #20

Whenever I look, I see you twice.

The tent in the forest by Texas Falls

and the couch where you go

those nights you can’t sleep.

The rocky lake shore

in the moonlight and wind

and the chair where you doze with the cat.

This double vision is a peculiar

blessing to the old,

living as we do in many places

with so much behind

and so much less ahead.

 

Winter Prompt #19: Forget Matilda

FORGET MATILDA

Winter Prompt #19

No problem. I never, ever

remember her. Waking at 4 a.m.,

that old fear clutching—I am not

remembering Matilda. Walking

by the sea, filling my pocket

with white pebbles, admiring

the pair of osprey hovering

beyond the tide-line, I do not

think of Matilda. Stretching

my ice-cleats over my boots,

clipping the leash on the dogs’ collar,

following the ways of rabbits

through the snow—no Matilda.

Singing lonesome madrigals,

buying onions and soap,

drinking coffee with my husband,

feeding the cats,

reading to our grandson—

Matilda never enters my mind.

I have long list of sorrows,

but the one thing I do not regret —

I never remember Matilda.

Winter Prompts #17 & #18

GRASS

Winter Prompt #17

Once there was grass,

dandelion and clover,

gill-over-the ground.

Once there was green.

 

It’s there, still,

under the frozen slush,

the snow. Under

the deep puddles,

the shallow ice lakes

that cover the pastures.

 

It will turn again;

it will grow green.

The commonplace

miracle.

Resiliance is reality.

 

EARWORMS

Winter Prompt #18

I slept well with no dreams I can recall.

When I awoke, I noticed first

the light on the ceiling

of the hotel room—or rather a light

and its dimmer double, down

and to the left—an alarm or sensor

blinking orange every half-minute.

I closed my right eye to make the double

disappear. My eye is not single,

I thought. I hardly remember

what that was like.  The light is one

though the lamps be many.  Then One light

ascending through four notes

and The light is one though the lamps be many

in a dominant chord

over the sitar, after the wandering

verses  I can’t remember. One light,

The light is one though the lamps be many.

That simple chorus like a child’s song.

Of course—O brilliant!—the Incredible

String Band’s search—scattered lights

of many lamps, patterns that don’t stick,

chordless rifts resolving into One light.

The light is one though the lamps be many.

Of course. ’Tis the gift to be simple.