Nobody can sleep in a room in the renovated hotel’s fourth floor
because the lovers have not left. The businessman before dinner
finds the sheet thrown to the foot of the bed and before he knows
what he is doing he is stepping over jeans, socks, a bra, a colorful
dress that smells of flowers and wine, none of which can be seen
with the eye, but the businessman has seen love before, he has spent
many nights in rooms like this and he respects the lovers.
He does not remake the bed. He hangs his jacket on the chair
and lies face down on the open bed, absorbing the singular scent.
He cannot sleep, the bed is too busy, he hears breathing
and the ascent of a name new on her lips. The wind moans outside
Because it would like to lay quietly across a small landscape
The size of a sheet and rest, too. The man wipes a tear, gets up.
Later, over dinner, he makes the biggest deal of his career.
A fleet of winter flowers
Sails out over the brown ocean
To war. None will come back
But their song is light.
When a thing grows where we think
it shouldn’t, we have misunderstood
Its nature, or the environment
It grew in, or both.
Tell me about the mountain stream,
Cloud chasing cloud like a fleet
Of winter flowers. A song as light
As rain has reached our roots.
Laughing out loud
The soul embarks on its journey.
Nobody is there to wave it goodbye
Or wish it safe passage. Yet it looks back.
The soul feels it is traveling in circles.
The passage is both long and short
Because it is the soul that is growing,
Not the journey,
Blossoming outward like a sphere
Where for the outermost edge the journey
Is the longest and only gets longer
Until looking back it sees itself
Waiting for its arrival at the beginning.
Who is that standing by you, laughing?
Rolling the trash to the street, Monday night, cold rain
In the neighbor’s security spotlight, activated by my foraging,
The rain is turning to snow. No longer just the path of a motion
But the substance of a season. No longer a man in the dark
Putting out trash but, striding through the door, carrier
Of a million fragile messages of light, change, gravity.
Portrait of a Daughter, 5:45 a.m.
She gets up before everyone else, goes downstairs.
Turns on all the lights in the house — upstairs hallway,
Foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen. The back
Porch, the storage closet, the downstairs bathroom.
She stands and watches as the ghosts charge her,
Trying to find the chinks of darkness to escape into.
Always just as her fear begins to give in, they dissolve
In the light. A ragged pause, a short breath. Now
The rest of the family can be woken.
Meditation on an empty field
The winter field’s as many colors as kinds of loss.
It gets no bigger but grows every year.
There’s still sweet green, scuffed gold, brown verging
On yellow. Things beneath with code for new color.
Where the digging root took deep hold, maple and oak:
Identifying grief is like recognizing trees in winter
In this season of missing. Look closely.
There are months to learn them all. The wind
through this one is my name, your voice.
Conversations (XXI) — to the lost ones
Months into the journey the sign
at the arrival gate said Not Yet
The placard held by the limo driver
By the baggage check had no name
But we had a name for you
We do not know if you came again
Under another name if that was
Your only name the only chance for arrival
Or if you filtered like light filters
Into different rooms in every house
On the street in the town that would
Let light in we don’t know what became
Of that light because it lit us from within
And then was gone before we saw it
Conversations (XX) — to the emptiness
You remember the space between branches.
You remember being the last leaf.
You remember them slipping away in the wind
but the wand of the universe held you twisting.
You remember accepting the wind’s tongue
Making its voice the only voice others heard
And thought was yours.
And the wind’s tongue turned you over until
You were facing a different space between
Branches and saw twisting there one other
Leaf who had heard on stillest nights in early
Winter your true voice all along