THE HAWK

THE HAWK

Every day I walk with the yellow dog who understands human language but can not yet speak. Every day, or nearly every day, we saw the hawk in the dead elm trees between the hay fields or on the power line. In early spring, two hawks circled the fields. In late summer, one young hawk called hunger from the elms while one adult watched from the wire. The dog was disturbed by the hawk’s wheeling or calling, and she raised the orange ridge on her back and growled and barked. And in November, when the hay in the fields was cut short and the living oaks and the dead elms stood as outlines against the sky, on a November morning when the yellow dog and I walked down the road with the mountains on the east and the hills on the west, I found the hawk on the ground, beneath the wire, not far from the elms. The hawk’s red tail was spread, the dark and speckled wings were folded, claws curled, the sharp eyes flat, the neck broken. What shall we do? I cried, and the yellow dog answered. —Carry the hawk to the row of elms and lay it down there. And weep awhile, and I will weep with you. But only for awhile, for you shall see.— So I lifted the hawk and carried it close to my heart and I walked with the dog to where the grasses and goldenrod stalks grew tall under the trees. And there I placed the hawk. And the dog said —Good—. And for awhile we wept. And that night, the hawk came to me while I slept. Her red tail was spread acorss the Earth and her wings opened east and west as far as I could see. Her great head touched the sun. And she spoke. —You see, she said, who I am. Now you see. Your eyes open to my flight, your ears open to my cry, your heart open to my life.— And with a shout the hawk rose up, then up, beyond the sun. And when I woke, the yellow dog was curled beside me and looked at me through her brown eyes, and said —Yes. That’s how it is.—

MATTER: A Pantoum

MATTER: A Pantoum

What gods do is make and let the pieces fall.

Billions of clocks on billions of beaches

turning as our hands move however they

move or our four legs or six or eight.

 

Billions of eyes in billions of deserts

move through their times or none and 

we move our two legs or four or six or eight and

our hearts and chloroplasts, mycelium,

 

our many eyes or none.

Our structures crystalize, the plates

and hearts and chloroplasts and mycelium

subduct and bump as we rise and fall.

 

The structure of our crystals, how the plates 

and all we do is an echo of clapping hands as we

subduct and bump and rise and fall.

With voices, silences, wavings of branches

 

we echo with our hands 

and twigs and whatever anemones use

for voices: silences? wavings of branches?

We’re all made of one matter.

 

Twigs and anemones

turn while our hands move however they

move because we’re all the matter

and making matter and falling is what we do.

DISAPPOINTED

 

DISAPPOINTED

You were good all year.

You kept the rules, even

the ones you made up:

Always say “please’ to the dog.

Don’t eat chocolate on Tuesdays.

(new stanza)

You’ve learned all the magic words:

not only please  and thank you kindly,

Hocus Pocus and Abracadabra,

but the secret ones, the ones

you’d never dare write down.

new stanza

You know the gestures:

The morning bows 

the evening pirouettes

and everything else

in between.

(new stanza)

You believe there are enough

ponies to go around,

and more. They tell you that

 all the time. Abundance,

they tell you.

(new stanza)

So every year, you write

the letter, asking. 

It’s all you want,

you say. You’re not

greedy. And you’ve made

(new stanza)

space—a little barn,

a fenced-in pasture.

You can afford grain and hay

and apples and sugar

and vet bills.

(new stanza)

But every year,

when you wake

on that morning

and look outside

there is no pony.

(new stanza)

Only the sun rising.

Only your breath

clouding the window.

Only your beating heart.

Only the trees against the snow.

 

 

 

I paid wordpress some more money so I could format poetry properly, and I cannot do it. Sorry about the “new stanza” business, but stanzas are important. I’m asking for a refund!

COWBOY

This is an old one I just dug up.

COWBOY

 

Remember the Costa Rican cowboy?

He has returned, and was he always

a dream? He lay on the grass

and read poetry to children. He ate

caesar salad and believed in a god

who understood everything he felt.

Once upon a time, we talked

all night. He drank beer and I drank

sherry and smoked. He never smoked.

Did he kiss me by the water? Did I

marry him?And what if I didn’t?

I hear that he has learned

to play the mandolin.

PALM SUNDAY DREAM

PALM SUNDAY DREAM

 

It began with an egg I broke

for the baking. A half-formed

chick clung to the yoke.

It could not be alive,

but it was alive, and

 

the musician and the farmer

standing beside me

lifted it from the shell, 

and warmed it in their hands,

and told me what to do.

MOTHERS, DESCENDING

MOTHERS, DESCENDING

~for my friends who have been here

Everyone has at least

one. As we get old, 

they vanish like dreams 

in the morning. They fall

back into the place of arising,

that holy or unholy womb

of world that held us all.

As they go, they show us.

They echo their beginnings.

Like the three-year old 

who awakens murmuring 

the sharkopuss is going down, down,

they fall asleep explaining how

we resemble their daughters.

Because, of course, perhaps

that’s who we are.

CAMINO

CAMINO

 

Trust the way is what she says, and stretches

her wings out to the edges of the sky 

before she becomes part of the air, this 

sunrise gray and new north wind. How did she 

fit between these trees? I’ve never known what 

to do about oracles or visions. 

The way? Jesus said he was and Auden 

wrote about how it leads to unlikeness, 

the land that holds it, the land made of it. 

Nothing is as it seems, remember. 

On certain paths, that becomes clear. Or 

perhaps, completely unclear. As I said, 

     I’ve never known what to do. Trust the way, 

     whatever that might mean today.

LABYRINTH

Red boards, white halls.

Posters and paint.

 

The inside of a piano. 

A washer full of light.

 

Two stairways

to one long corridor.

 

You do not have a clue.

You do not need one.

 

If you are lost, cry out,

no doubt someone

 

will hear you.

You will always be found.

 

What you do 

is up to you.

 

At the center—

no minotaur—

 

a glass door. Behind it,

earnest, commanding

 

fairies are waiting.

What did you expect?

 

Their Queen,

at first glance seems

 

innocent, unwinged.

Little do you know. 

 

Her throne a desk.

Her wand a pen.

 

Enter at your peril. 

Are you ready

 

to love the edges?

To practice not-doing?

 

Are you ready

to change your life?

 

 

 

DRAWING LESSON

I wrote this years ago for my friend Maggie, who at age 80 started modeling for art students, because, she said, “They need to know what old people look like.”  She liked the poem, and recorded herself reading it back to me. She died a couple of years ago, in her 90s. I miss her.

 

DRAWING LESSON

—in memory of Maggie Miller

 

Here you are, most with a world ahead,

some with half a world behind,

come to draw the human form.

And here I am naked before you

so comfortable, easy

in my eighty year old skin.

 

I love my folds,

metamorphosed mountains.

You think you can draw 

an old woman, dear babies?

Lean in, look hard.

It will cost you all your life.

 

I have been down deep, 

through muscle, sinew, bone.

Loved long a man long dead,

borne a son and let him go.

I am learning how to pray

and I laugh when you ask me to tell.

 

In my time I have come

to the heart’s solid core–

heat of life and more–

Now over you I pour 

my fire like water.

From where I lie I see

the place the stars will rise.

 

RESETTING

I’d already posted the first stanza. Here’s the whole thing.

 

RESETTING

1. 

Not the old patterns,

or variations printed on different cloth. 

Orange fleece instead of black wool.

The kind of comfortable shoes, but red.

Yellow candles.

The same time, but silence instead of prayers.

Most of the people, but not all.

What the crows talk about.

Where the bobcat crosses the road.

Music in a different key.

Cypriot O Antiphons.

Black currant juice, rye bread.

Things that smell like roses.

White tulips. Marigolds.

 

2.

I do it all the time.

Twice a year, all the clocks.

The weather station

whenever something goes awry.

The computer to accomodate

change, to fix a glitch.

The stove, the microwave

anytime the power goes off.

Why not now

during this long and changing time

of glitch, outage, awry?

 

3.

How should I pray?

No bloody psalm cries

and paeans to a thunder god.

No reconstructed ritual.

No begging for heaven;

I don’t have a soul to save.

 

I know a different god,

not father, but

farther, unbribeable,

god of asteroids, black holes,

god of hurricanes and floods.

Job’s god, who makes no sense,

no sense that matters now.

 

Jesus died for love 

and we’ve overburdened him.

Byzantine, Victorian, 

witch-hunter,  rough-rider,

Supreme Court Judge.

The wineskins split

and the wine is spilt away.

Salt has lost its savor,

and someone turned out the light.

 

The wind blows where it wills,

and not where we expect.

Over the shattered walls

of shuttered holy houses,

through boreal and coral forests.

It breathes in the hearts of foxes,

between the beaks of owls.

The sun is warm but the wind

is cold and carries too much rain.

 

Teach me to pray.