The green volume
April is soft green and spiders.
The wind has its green voice back,
Alphabet of letters all looking alike
And green gravediggers burying
The brown memories
Before they can be missed.
Flowers set upon each other
Like dogs or wolves we’ve not seen
Since first in love we glimpsed
A world to taste and tear apart.
Meanwhile in yet to happen May
All green darkens like a banker’s visor
As sun slants beyond a high Wednesday
Afternoon window. Counting coin for June.
The other May’s the underside of maple,
Adding dimension, staying light, twisting
Minutes, filling the green volume.
To a Japanese maple in mid-April
The heavy spring rain pulled the night
All the way to the ground. Like shattered glass
It lay through dawn in the hollow. When I rose
The sky was the blue of starting over
But not forgetting. The stars had crawled
Up your trunk and were asleep in their green study.
The broken darkness, unsteady in daylight, lurched
Gracefully, two black swallowtails
Like dizzy memories of other nights that fell
To earth and survived the day.
Author’s note: This Japanese maple, located in Afton, Virginia, provided the leaves for the leaf-print illustrations in my new book Wind Intervals.
In the sweet air we want to take off our socks
And the song of the grass is softening
In the dark something moves slowly across space
Even the wind is taking its time
The silver maple’s a month early getting leaves
I feel that way too — for each heartbeat that flies from me
Tonight there’s a silent starling waiting in the walnut grove
On the sky press even the spaces must be set in metal
And sit above the text of dreams to print night’s pure black.
Sometimes that space like the space between us
Slips into the day and rises above the waking words
and becomes visible space. It ascends from the pull
of the moon and pushes forward like a panther,
Like a runner in a darkening wood who suddenly sees
The trees don’t block the path, they make the path.
Humpback Rocks, Early Spring
So I took you up with me
to this chiseled place
where the clouds are closer
than their shadows
The whisper among the trees
a shout of bark and lichened rock
Mountainside trees stand differently
shaped by cascading arrangement
higher up where the wind is so loud
you no longer register it as sound
all I hear is the noise of trees bending
against each other, ajar to the invisible
like doors opening all around me
Your laugh can fool me
into thinking I have earned
and deserve your love
from Spring Songs (8)
Nothing more can happen in April so I am waiting
The rain is waiting too clouds simmering in the south
The grass wants to touch you but looks away waiting
The buildings with their hands in their pockets
Gather quietly but keep a respectful distance
the afternoons light as if held up by balloons
The month has filled out the world so much its last
day will be empty it will need a day to decompress
The last hours gather around you like referees
watching an instant replay because nothing more
can happen: you have to compress the month
in your mind while the days decompress
so quickly that your memory leaps in slow motion
and the hours nod and blow their whistles
A string stretching across the stars and sky draws closer
a jump-rope in slow motion at the top of its arc
Just before you hear the sound of its rasp
on the sidewalk you must skip casually
into May your soul barely leaving the ground
because it is all so light now and you want to come back