November hymnal (14)
The sea stone sets down on the sky’s lobby.
Only the birds pass through it; their feathers
Still remember when they were scales.
The star has sent a poem to commemorate
The occasion. It’s the same poem every star
Composes. That every civilization has waited for.
The family pauses between house and car.
One of them points upward. A thousand things
Still alive in the trees and underbrush see
A thousand different families.
The birds rotate the stone like gears and snow
flecks off the stone as if God were sharpening
A great knife on it, to cut through the pile of burnt
Trees. To cut through ignorance, doubt, faith.
Four years later the house is empty. Sunlight
Streaks through the lobby and is arrested by
Clouds. Night falls. The star’s poem finally arrives:
“Too late!” reads the entire poem. Because they
Always have to be right, stars have few words
To work with. The sound of birds traveling through
The sea stone is like that of snow on steps.
The sound of stars composing is like a shovel on a walkway.
Sunday the 8th
The way the weather ends
And begins a discussion
About everything surviving
The weather. The way
Unexpected snow falls
Like a silhouette of spring
Sitting patiently as we trace
Its shadow. The way the sun
Arcs like a baseball hit so far
It will land in the last parking lot
Ever, bounce off the hood
Of the car of the only person
Who stayed for the whole
Game. The way the car’s
alarm, like any true alarm
Will be silent. The way we
Keep score as if it all
Won’t be gone soon enough.
Reading sheet music
The guitar arpeggios are the roofs of nearly identical houses
In a small village. The streets are covered in snow, no one
Goes in or out. But the temperature even at night has turned mild,
No smoke rises from the roofs, which are spotted with moonlight.
In the morning a dog runs through the alleys, pausing here and there
To check out something new. Snow slides off a roof in the morning sun.
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.
Conversations (XVIII) — to gratitude
Morning’s lit from underneath.
It’s the scrim of snow and grass’s gauze.
Melted (like me) by a mild
Morning, by your slightest warming.
Near the End of the First Winter of My Sixth Decade
Through a brick-lined alley where I read my life’s sentence
I step over a rivulet of snowmelt that flows behind me into the past
walking with an open cup of coffee in a soft cold rain
Winter Evening, After Much Snow
Plows pound the shoreline of the storm.
When their wave has passed, the shovels
emerge like crabs and get busy. The full moon,
distant jellyfish, drifts over the becalmed buildings.
In the still summer swamp a cypress knee’s
a mountain. Behind the patient transparent lid
of danger there is not a single smooth straight
line on two hundred million years of hide.
On the hill I dump more March snow
behind my truck into a pile impenetrable as Everest
without a Sherpa. The uneven humps
of buried cars stretch ahead: back of a giant alligator,
danger lies silent on the surface of the road.
Overcast Full Moon Night, After Snow
Rain melts snow then turns
to snow: earth slides soft
then stiffens and stills
and disappears under new snow:
Clouds ride endless wind
always leaving: unseen
and unmoved by the mess
and distance, something
of you and I makes its
own slow circle above
To the one missing her father inexplicably on a warm day after an ice storm
Mid-morning snow after a night of sleet.
Ice is melting off the roofs, descending
faster than flakes can fall, but they go
only their own speed, unconcerned
with making up the distance