Thursday, May 12, 2016

Envying Saint Hildegarde

I want to know her kind of green -

the shade she discovered

alcoved in vine leaves, feeling

 her  soul make chlorophyll.


Light and rain

left on the foliage

converted to a divine sense

of verdancy


that haunted her awareness

of  Life in all places.


Even the rocks jutting

over the sea Their bare shins

scraped by wind and salt,


the shriek of shorebirds

echoing through pale bones

of driftwood and  split-open

ribs of the clam.


Their lament drawn

by everything lost and hollow.


And here, too, where  her Rhine

is a hose trickle in dirt

the spigot grudgingly  gave;


and her abbey's portico.

the stem work of  hedges

half-shaven by rusty shears,


she would find spring

calling her home, cascading in bright

syllables on the desert's tongue.



We're still greening, rooted in the sun

she would say -- but I have yet

to unhood this shadow

and feel such leafing in my veins.



A puddle shimmers

after the rain.


It has washed the small feet

of lizard & sparrow,


the larger

of rabbit & squirrel.


I learn more

watching the water;

a veil of haze over head,


the sun's candle

on the west shoulder

of day. Its light


barely flickers

while leaf and bark

float piecemeal in the mirror.


Peeled - off scabs

of something healed

or still hurting.


I can't tell

but If I wait, my patience


with the shadows --



in the calm drift of air


I will feel it.

I will know.



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Missive

Your letter was there

among other documents

in the safe box -- to be given

as the first rites on Mother's Day.

The script like the script

of your face - beautiful and perceptive.

Written ten years before your death,

you somehow knew

which words needed to fly

in the evening sun , the blue shimmer

of swallows circling round

the uncertain child.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Mochu

A woman leans

over the mountain bridge

watching her own body curve

                       around the fir trees.


Full & clear. Stone-hipped & capillaried

in moss. She is the river


who has left the river

to contemplate why - her water will weaken

and her journey change


over many days

and many crossings taken

by villagers & livestock, glacial mist & birds.


Something monks have foreseen

praying in their temple. Housewives have felt

in the warmer-than-usual wind

drying turnip leaves on the floor. What their carved gods

know hanging on the  kitchen wall.


Prayer flags bloom on the railing

asking to be healed, helped or forgiven;

and she wonders which sins

are left unspoken. What penitents may come


asking  to be cleansed

as her body thins

to a trickling shadow. A scarf of purity

                     in the mud.


The word, Mochu,  is the Bhutanese  for female river. In the culture and religion of people from Bhutan, a small nation on the eastern slopes of  The Himalayas,  all aspects of nature are spirits from the flowers to the wind. This also includes rivers; and they are also given genders depending on the shape, texture and movement of the terrain. The softer more curvaceous course  is considered feminine/female and the more rugged, muscular one is deemed masculine/male. And that river is an entity ranging in perspective from a sacred spirit to a minor goddess/god.. The rivers are known to be clear, cold and pure, a major source of inspiration, drinking nourishment and irrigation for their fields and gardens. Yet, even in this remote and isolated part of the world, climate change is occurring along with the introduction of modern technology and the influx of tourists. The old ways are changing; and so is the pristine face of the landscape. This poem is the river contemplating the future and its ecological effects. Like all of us, who metaphorically leave our bodies during meditation or dreaming, so does the mind/soul of  the river.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Rose Is


This is not about a woman

in a Pre-Raphaelite painting

or the lesbian poet

who sang  a rose is a rose is a rose --


it is about a standard

of being, bearing grace.

Skin whorled soft

in coral,

Stem a long

and straight spine,

and leaves flared

like shoulders wrapped

in the wind's shawl.

Its fabric of  holy things:

feather wisps

of hawk or raven,

dust and grass

from a burial ground,

seeds and needles

from an ancient tree

and  whispers of old ones

we don't understand.

 Their voices cindered

 in the early and evening light.

And here, the flower lives

in the shadow of the mesa,

a stranger to this terrain

yet, her breath is solvent

in the breath of the desert --

absorbing what is there

and what came before.



Thursday, April 7, 2016

At Random

A woman yields
to on-coming traffic. Pigeons lift from the road.
A bearded man cycles by
in his straw hat and white shirt. A knapsack with easel
strapped behind.  
                         Manet cloned.
He is going somewhere to paint
a rowboat dozing
among cattails and a morning breeze. Their reflections
                               splintered. A rippling spill
of blues and greens. Brown soft
as the pelt of a muskrat And the sun warm. Pond musk
                              deepened by its heat.
The woman checks her mirror.
A man slowly disappears into his dream.
Birds have flown to  street lamp or tree.
                                The asphalt  shimmers;
and she makes her turn thinking
of another impressionist.  How age
has slightly fractured the lake
of her skin.
                Fine lines ripple
                under the eyes, around the mouth.
Yet when the right wind sails
across her face, she feels them shrink
under lashes (still) sprouting thick
like the water willow;
                     and lips that haven't swelled
with collagen -- but a burst of words.
The brief overflow
of a poem.  Her breath thawed into Spring.



After an  hour

or a quarter less, the air mellow,

you came into my arms

having shed your wings

on the kitchen floor.


And now you want to leave

spreading long-necked and arm-slender

(once again)

over your crinkled plumage of maps.


The first layer a continent,

the second its countries,

the third and fourth - single cities.


Basilicas, bridges, and  balconies,

canals, cobblestones and cottages,

holy trees, hills and harbors,

stairs, tunnels and gates

leading into vineyards or gardens..


you have lived and loved

in some of these places

with each year's migration --

their echo and scent in your bones,

(your delicate infrastructure).


And the rest

still waiting for you to come

in this life or the next.


But for now, I ask you to stay

shifting  from air to earth,

thermals to a thermos of coffee.

Outside, mallards swim on the lake.

The sun at soprano pitch

shattering cool water

into golden sparks. The light  and green of it,

a spring evening we haven't seen.


Our presence in a moment

that has not been tracked or planned.