Kwakiutl

Kwakiutl

On a long journey. The road darkened like glass
after the candle behind it has guttered.

I met the forest there like a corner rounding everywhere.
Birds who’d never heard themselves before were asking

for their names. Though we could hear the train beyond the ridge
we knew it was empty except for a woman anxious

she’d missed her stop as she dozed. We walked but I could not hear
your step behind me over the sound of the leaves growing.

I am tracking a number in the dark. It keeps changing typeface
to throw me off the trail but it is the only set of tracks ahead of me.

Even as I slow down I am accelerating. Your own footsteps
are catching up to me but I am afraid the number ahead will tire

at last and I will catch it, panting on a hip-high rock among the pine.
I should go back to the woods in the daytime, who ever thought

you were nocturnal, and in the light splaying
among the leaves I am not afraid of numbers.

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In the Month of Your Birthday

In the Month of Your Birthday

Mid-afternoon storm hours behind me, on the walk home.
Slight breeze triggers rain in the maple, cascading

leaf to leaf in the layers of small shadowed sky, not a memory
of rain but the actual rain, retained, in the vast shadows, actually

falling, and isn’t memory an actual thing moving in a real space,
and like the rain in this maple, not touching the ground.

Thoughts As I Wait for the Thunder Moon to Appear

Thoughts As I Wait for the Thunder Moon to Appear

Chuang Tzu asked, why is what the world does worth doing?
The thunder moon which I cannot see teaches me that it is unavoidable.

Regardless of all that I know and do not know,  it is launched without slowing
over the clouds. As the arrival of clouds cannot be avoided, neither can the departure

of clouds. It may not be worth doing, Chuang Tzu said. And yet
it cannot be left undone. I am looking without seeing, Chuang Tzu,

and it may be enough that I am no longer looking for the moon.
In the quiet, unseeable, the small chicory flower unfolds towards dawn.

As the departure of life cannot be avoided, neither can its arrival.
When the moon’s no longer needed, clouds break open like blue petals.

Dog Days

Dog Days

Nothing sturdy in the stem.
Nor of legacy in the one-season leaf.

All dogs must die, but not at once.
Like grass, let’s grow monuments

too numerous to be destroyed
in a single death. We’ll sit with this one

through the moments
we’ll not remember in a year

to remember we can build
what matters from pure light

recognize love same as we know
the texture of both sides

of this summer leaf waving
welcome and farewell

in the single breeze passing
from invisible past

to invisible future. All dogs
like summers will pass

but not before we live them
through. Let’s leap into

the coming stillness.
Let’s make the favorite meal.

Let’s sit with this one, no more
special than a blade of grass,

great as any dog or summer ever lost,
and let it last as long as it lasts

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Last Poem of Spring

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Last Poem of Spring

Boxing up books. It is almost summer.
So many different flowers are packed in

the small flower garden. Gin and tonic
in a jar with ice, as light leaks away.

There are the dead, the lost,
the memories floating in patterns

like fireflies, their season starting
with a wild inland storm, mountains

disappearing behind the gray wall

Inside Outside

Inside Outside

In my son’s room at dusk a firefly floats to the ceiling
I know outside they are rising to the thick canopy

in the backyard where even the night barely gets through
When I walk out the fireflies are re-arranging the constellations

as if they are not sure what shapes to believe in
Here I am at fifty recognizing no shapes of belief but noticing

the vectors of illumination   There are crickets
in the high grass near the fence I haven’t had the heart

to cut back in this yard I will not see next spring