Frost flourishes in the shade like flowers in the sun–
the gain may be temporary but isn’t the temporary
gain all that can be measured and for frost after all
isn’t the temporary a permanence itself? External
conditions set it stony and sharp, a marker
of the cold we feel—things being different
it might be the drop of dew in which
you glimpse the moon you’d otherwise miss
Walking in the Dark
Late night walks are making more sense
as I realize how little of my life
I am really seeing. Making it home each night
through the black ink of every word of hope
and doom engraved into the emptiness
surrounding me—isn’t it much better
practice than bounding about in daylight
thinking I am understanding everything?
In the dark the actual tree spreads without end,
across time and space, and I begin to sense
that my blindness also travels a route
set in deep earth, exposed to the sky.
Setting Moon, with Constellations, One Night Before Its First Quarter, Late December
When the moon sinks low in the western sky
I pour a day’s memories into its gold cup
as the old rules state. Evening is cooling off
but mild, as if between myself and
the stars there is an owl flying away while at the same
time a distant unknown bird is approaching.
When they pass each other I am finding the key
in my pocket and feeling blindly for the lock.
When the cup is locked in the cupboard
of the past for another day, in the quiet house
I take out the moments I withheld from the moon
and place them in the dark above me: your hand
on my arm, your head against my shoulder.
The phone ringing. The living warmth of you
like a foreign language I can suddenly read
as words pour into the room and we listen.
Roads diminish and clarify. People disappear.
The skunk is just being himself on the edge of the dark sidewalk.
On a certain night even he can see the dog-star.
Not shaking off the weather. All last summer the stooped old lady
laid her traps and could not flush him out of hiding. All summer
I spent mornings freeing trapped squirrels and possums
before the noon sun dehydrated them. She never came out
to see and neither did the skunk in her crawlspace. Now, crossing
the road, he looks up to the house as if remembering
or as if seeing through walls and latticework: here’s a place
I could make a home beneath. Here is a place I can depart
and come back to. A place I can impart the secret:
How to disappear but never leave. How to settle in
when all you will do at this age is preparation for leaving.
I would kneel with you any hour and pray to find that place.
If we wait long enough the wind will move the invisible aside.
On This Rainy Night, Thinking of You
Though there is far more space
between raindrops than there is rain
it is natural to feel the rain and not the dry space.
This evening: inside, dry, all I feel is the space
Fog, Near the Summit of Afton Mountain, Just After the Winter Solstice
We disappear into the unseen ahead of us:
Already built, a bridge will reveal itself
when we arrive where a bridge is needed.
We’re not the first to make this trip.
Note: My 11 year old daughter Sophia wrote this poem earlier this evening.
Swooping down the sky
reaching what grasp cannot
through chiseled spaces
of interlocking earths
Gone to the time’s end
old darkest wrinkles
Voracious sounds of sight
always forward looking
What is never is now appearing
foretold futures swaying
on lines of pure balance.
Grains of gold including the factor
deepening eyes of she did swell up.
Raining waterfalls that did
forever secrets handling.
I don’t want to believe it, either—
so I won’t, until the image clears.
Then there is only what there is
and I won’t have to believe anything
I can’t see, or in anything I can’t see.
Maybe belief is only what we practice
while waiting. I only know I’d kill anything
and hold it up to the sun to see you safe.
To the one missing her father inexplicably on a warm day after an ice storm
Mid-morning snow after a night of sleet.
Ice is melting off the roofs, descending
faster than flakes can fall, but they go
only their own speed, unconcerned
with making up the distance
Through a window, December night after rain
Negative space of roof and branches
are defined by the rising moon, crow-sized
negative image of the crow’s solid eye. Just the other
day, a young pileated woodpecker stood
right where the moon is tonight, as bright,
exactly as big, cartoonish, sounding like a monkey
afraid of the moon in the leafless branches