Tag Archives: impermanence

Six late-August evenings (5)

Six late-August evenings (5)

5.
Ithaca, 1987. Walking down the middle of a street
In Collegetown. Above my head in the oak arching

Over the road, splattering sunlight like a Pollock
Being painted over every second under my feet,

The eternal drone of a lone cicada. No over or under,
No depth or arc, no resolution. Through the oak leaves

A bluejay flashes through with the suddenness
Of a thing that carries its own sky. The drone stops,

The cicada’s head drops papery at my feet like
An origami animal of surprise that even the eternal dies.

*

Charlottesville, twenty years later. My children call it
The jungle. Half the back yard shaded by maple,

Mimosa and oak. A path meandering along its fenced perimeter
Between saplings and ivy. The jungle extends through

The entire neighborhood’s backyards as if by communal
Design. The broad winged hawk has taken up residence

Because the neighbors behind us feed songbirds.
We feed the nightstain of crows that drop on our deck

In the morning, ungainly dew, to pluck last night’s dinner scraps
From our crow trough. On a hot August afternoon I walk

From the deck to the edge of the jungle. Something has caught
My eye: a blade of blue sticking from the grass.

It’s a bluejay feather, standing in the earth like a pen, its quill
Embedded several inches into the ground. A few feet

Beyond that, the impossibly soft white belly feathers, strewn
Like an exploded dandelion. A few feet away, nothing else

But the bluejay’s head. So much smaller in its silence.

Still life, with bridge and creek

creekstilllife

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

Inside Outside

Inside Outside

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

I Take a Picture of An Icicle Hanging from My House’s Gutter And Even Though the Icicle Drops Seconds Later I Write the Following Poem Composed in One-Line Stanzas I Am Not Prepared to Defend With Any Theory but Insist You Take Seriously For The Moment As If I Really Do Know Why I Did It That Way

frozen moment

I Take a Picture of An Icicle Hanging from My House’s Gutter And Even Though the Icicle Drops Seconds Later I Write the Following Poem Composed in One-Line Stanzas I Am Not Prepared to Defend With Any Theory but Insist You Take Seriously For The Moment As If I Really Do Know Why I Did It That Way

Icicle depending from the gutter and clarity of tree shadow on a snowy roof

Sky the blue of belief though nothing to hold on to

Like us the icicle hanging on lengthened by what’s leaving its way

Beneath it five drops of water like a memory are frozen in time

No telling what is still and what is moving

In your memory like a memory that drop will never change

In an image all about movement nothing will move

The icicle’s shape never seen before never again when I turn again

It has dropped from the gutter like it was never there the blue sky showing no surprise

The shadow of the maple’s high branches on the snowy roof

Conditions Being What They Are

Conditions Being What They Are

 

Warm March morning. The sky dropped a foot
of snow on us a week ago and now it rises

in the warm air as fog in the hollows and foothills
disappear as I drive through it. Tonight it’s coming

back down as rain which will be snow before it ends
and I’ll be bending my back to shovel it away

from my car. Three times I will have passed through
it in a week, this same stuff, reconfigured, recycled.

When they buried my uncle a few days ago I knew
if there is a soul it’s like this snow, form a phase only

with respect to specific conditions and maybe
for all that, still surviving, no memory, none,

recognition only a scent like snow before it snows.