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.
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
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.
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
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
The spokes come off the wheel
and the invisible vessel keeps moving
to a hundred destinations
At each a wheel the size of an eye
looks in a hundred directions
and the world is big again
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