November hymnal (20)
Memories of jumping in leaf piles
Are like the action of jumping
Into memory: edged shapes so light
The sharp pleasant scent
Composing myself amid total
Decomposition (meanwhile late
Fall’s upside down spring leaves
Reach the canopy of ground
And ever so slowly begin
The ascension to crown the roots)
Poem to be read in the middle of the night
In the daylight the wind in high branches
can at least be seen if not heard
In the spring it will regain its voice
the trees will put on their hands and applaud
Their applause is what we hear
The performance itself slips through ungrasped
Morning after the rain the creek
Brags its long story.
The breeze picks up
The chatter of leaves.
The maple shrugs about it
But in months to come it will
Shoulder a strongman’s
Burden of snow and ice.
My children race around
The trunk chasing the leaves that
whittle the air unpredictably
On their way to the ground
Sketching out for them their
One day they too will fall
Away from the family tree
Who will be running to catch
Them I wonder
from Spring Songs (12)
Midnight. In a corner of a room
a few days away, a half century crouches.
In the dark the corners of the years round up
certainty into the smooth black mast
against which direction flaps without words,
a trunk removed from its roots.
In the morning it is the maple and its shadow
unwinding along riverways of air and light.
The maple is old but the leaves always young,
the hours of the year, the half million
minutes through which we extend and end,
define the canopy of entirety itself by the shape
of what we miss. We shed time but are shaped by it;
wine on a quiet night, before crickets.
In a space under trees I can hear the wind that is not here
like a can kicked across the street by a boy still coming
or as if the act of the boy shaping his mouth to shout
made a sound before the sound of the shout
What is the word that I hear before the trees
above me shake and give the wind a momentary word
What is the sound of a loosening of leaves
like forgetting hands just before they drop
to our sides? The interval of apprehension.
The time we are alive. The boy stepping up the curb.
Time difference, breezy day
Shadows on the sidewalk of leaves in motion
above me are like the shadows of flames
the leaves are burning but the burn is slower it is a burn
we can inhabit or control are the leaves our days
how can we see it in the leaves still green and flexible
how can we see the beginning and end of it all in the shadows
how does the time difference work is it the same
when I send out words to you here in my midsummer
why do I feel the entirety of me burning
April leaves have given the wind a face and a voice
but not a body and not a will. Facing the headwind
Of great deeds and tragedies, I think we feel the same:
fear and awe at power without will, animating a hero.