Tag Archives: maple

November hymnal (27) / Song of the cold wind

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November hymnal (27) / Song of the cold wind

The maple leaves have browned on stems above
A trunk choked with ivy in my neighbor’s yard

The song of the cold wind through the month’s
Last leaves is like running rain then

River galloping over rocks then like burning
Banned books then finally as the song

Of the cold wind harmonizes with ice it’s like tearing
Up the truth (I thought these words

holding my tongue and chattering teeth because
Behind them lay the idea of the May maple

All too ready to spring but I counseled patience
There is no use biting what’s already dead)

While the once weightless brown words dropped
Stone heavy where sleet slept on them and any

Body walking by could hear them
Bounce off the ground like pennies

November hymnal (4)

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November hymnal (4)

On a cold November morning a man’s
Soul puts on his fifty year old body like a scar

Of his twenty year old’s dream of this morning.
The dream itself was a jacket that wouldn’t fit

Any future. The man steps under the maples
Across the street as the sun takes out its

Paintbrush; he chases leaves to the grass.
His children join him, stuffing their pockets

With color that will never go to ground.
With every stumble he gets younger.

With a gold and red season between his fingers
He takes off his jacket and leans

Like a bare tree against the sky.

April Evening

April Evening

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

Thoughts in Early May

Thoughts in Early May

I can still outrun my children
but the race has to be very short

or very long. And the middle space
widens every day,

We drove out of town in early spring
to visit a friend of my daughter

whose family makes church organs
among the folded hills of Virginia farmland.

There the metal is boiled and poured
in a long flat trough, so thin it can

be rolled into the pipes that channel
air into faith-appropriate pitch.

The cows leisurely await their doom
in the fields all around.

The sharp shinned hawk flies low

across the field and alights on an old post.
The family’s house is a crossroad of winds–

every stiff breeze in the valley seems to force
its way toward the house, from every direction,

speeding through foothill and gap,
funneled by finely ill-mapped roads,

reaches their yard finally as a constant gale
ripping the voice from trees and shrubs as we stumble

to the side door. My daughter’s friend
is used to it, she shouts from the porch, it never ends.

I think it is all the winds of the world auditioning
for a chance to flow through those pipes

and into the shadows of stillness
and be heard as something straight from God.

At home it is calm as a confessional.
The library across the street is closed.

We always have books to bring back,
and we always find them when the library

is closed. The silver maple next door
is so covered with English ivy it should be dead

but it has bloomed again this year,
enough to make the blue jay invisible.

I recognize his pitched query as others recognize
in the church organ the vowels of God.

I hear, in my own breath as I stand on the porch,
that same fierce longing as those winds

to become somebody else’s voice.

from Spring Songs (12)

from Spring Songs (12)

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.

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Another Reason Why I Wish the House Next Door Had Not Sold, Though It Is Still Abandoned

Another Reason Why I Wish the House Next Door Had Not Sold, Though It Is Still Abandoned

Out my second story window I would see great branches
flowing from an unseen maple’s trunk, striding on the air

to the roof of the house next door.
A month ago two men climbed the tree

to the roof. I watched them slowly saw, saw away
anything they could reach. The new view’s an old metal roof

snow sliding down its creases, winter’s white sky
and a single wren on the tip of tender branch up

where saws could not reach. I used to see squirrels,
a dozen in an hour, traveling branches like highways;

now while I don’t see anything I still hear them
in the gutter over my own window.  But I keep looking

where they used to be: the deepest view an empty one

Mid-Autumn Figures (Moon and Maple)

Mid-Autumn Figures (Moon and Maple)

 

Moon

Stone in the sky
tumbles through centuries

of clouds  smoothing out
absence with its presence

Maple

Just past their peak, wind-lifted
and let go like a child flung off a swing

higher than they have ever been
Meanwhile on the ridge line the trees

link arms and begin the walk home

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The Maple

The Maple

 

Near the top of the mountain
Across the grief of February’s empty arms
A single maple bursts into red buds.

*

The tree is not predicting spring, I note
And though alone, as I am, driving past,
Is not a symbol of courage, or a prophet, as I think I’d like.

It’s a being of air and earth, maybe keener
Than its cohorts at sensing a change in soil
Or air enabling itself to change

Into its next self.  In the morning
I hear the birds it cannot hear that tell me things
Are on their way to April.  I have my own cues

To draw from me the things I grow.
But that can’t be all: the Anglo-Saxon maple harp,
Excavated from a barrow in Berkshire,

Still struck an open chord
Across the dirt of centuries.
The maple love spoons carved by Welsh

Ancestors hang on the thrift store wall
And can still be recognized for what they are:
A domestic object wrought with

A passion undomestic and ornate. The maple
Is  durable for carving and can hold personal feelings
Far longer than the body can. Long after grief

Has run its course and the forces of air and earth
Have consumed us back into the world of unerring matter
And our family trees severed from this single point

Of meeting. Maybe that’s why this maple means
What it means to me, alone and driving by.

 

from the collection The Artificial Horizon