Still life, with bridge and creek
Water weaves through the shadows
we cast on the creek from the bridge.
So much constant motion in still shapes.
It’s like we’re seeing the world as it really is,
all the currents that pull through us while
we stand here. Before it can get
too maddening, my son skips
a stone across the metaphor
Full Moon and Firefly, early June
in my backyard in an hour’s calm breath
a lifetime of moons can flash in and out
of memory too many to count how many
might we get meanwhile a found penny
rolls slowly copper color up
this one slow night’s dark spine
Summer. The wren in the young willow
Swivels with the speed of a missed tag
In a back yard game of chase. What I am
Chasing I’m glad to miss. What I hold
On to is the untouchable joy of losing
A race to my daughter. The air after
Rain. It’s late spring, early June, and
You cannot convince children
out of school that it’s not summer.
Crouching quickly behind boxwoods during a game with my children.
A rabbit so unused to seeing wild humans eye-to-eye at root level
didn’t spook for thirty seconds. Later the yard will be firefly full,
Signals hazing in and out like ashes in reverse, a house
That used to be here unburning from the ground, the family whole
And healthy, the front porch boards reconstituting under the feet
Of my daughter as she takes a picture of the moon through
The geared leaves of tall walnut trees, the game she made up
releasing its antitoxin into the soil that makes it possible to remember
And inhibits the growth of competitive species of thought.
For those of my Loyal Readers in the Staunton area who did not make the book launch a few weeks back, I’ll be joining three other poets — Caroline Brae, Patsy Asuncion, and Leona Sevick — for a reading at the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room on Middlebrook Avenue, right downtown.
I’ll have copies of Wind Intervals as well as a few other things. The Ancients would love this setting, as drinking wine during the reading is heartily encouraged! To honor those old poets I’ll probably be reading from the Mei Yao-ch’en sequence Moonlight & Shadow, as well as from Wind Intervals. And maybe a few others.
As always before readings, I throw out the question to All of You. Anything you’d like me to read from the bulky mass of thin wonders that inhabit this place? Right now I’m considering “Stillness in a Low Time During the Rainiest Month of May in Half a Century” and maybe “Poem for the Back Cover of a Book” and “What We Want” but I’m still in the half-panicky-open-to-anything stage of preparation…
Last day of May, first night of fireflies.
All the details of the day a blur and flicker.
Try to catch one and you’ll miss the all of it.
Look up and the leaves have turned black.
The sky pale as a wet cloth absorbs their dark.
The bat caroms off air with a voice we can’t hear
And at ground level the day stays a little longer
All that little lightning and no thunder.
Praying Mantis and Peony, Late May
After the peony scrolls have been read
And the leaves of the peonies are clustered
Armor, I stand for a while to hear what comes
After the words on the scrolls have washed away
After the rain on the cascading layered leaves
Stills I see one poised on one leaf then grasping
It fully stepping with little effort to its underside then
Another smaller within inches and more
On either side praying mantis and praying mantis
So rare in my childhood I saw only one and now
For the second year they are here roaming
These leaves among the scraps of longing
And the sturdy sky boats of green even
On the porch we have seen them last summer
One the size of my hand climbed
On my daughter’s head and would not come down
The cicada they say is so pure it can live on dew
But the praying mantis who catches the cicada
Is emblematic of courage and perseverance
Here at peace after the rain when everything
That can be read has been read and the mind
Is perfectly balanced on the leaves of days
We stand silently knowing something purer will come
We will have to grasp before it changes yet again