Tag Archives: spring

To a Japanese maple in mid-April

JMtree

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.

Spring morning in a small city

cloudcharacter

Spring morning in a small city

The day is squeezed through the city’s buildings
Like water through a whale’s baleen

Leaving people harmlessly stuck to offices and stairways
Pressed against a wall in a hallway or sitting at a cafe

Table on the sidewalk. I, too small to be a meal for time
and commerce, slip through, discarded, on the quiet street

With my coffee. The sky is the blue of a baby’s iris.
A baby as big as a galaxy who is far from forming

Thoughts cohesive enough to create a world.
The only clouds in the sky slip together

Over the street into a momentary shape, a character
in a language not native to me but familiar.

I watch it pull itself apart. The city places orange cones
Around me to protect me while I stare and take a picture.

When I get home I discover it is the Chinese character
For “write.” I sit down with some paper and a blue pen

But every word drifts in a different direction as soon
As I write it and the page is as firm and white

As the sclera of a baby’s eye, of a galaxy whose
Unformed thoughts are rolling inward. The city blinks and

Before anyone can take a picture the day smashes its tail
on the surface of afternoon and is gone into the depths.

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

Before a Spring Storm

Before a Spring Storm

Who am I in the porch’s silence
Before the storm? A song

Of any more sense
Than mindless wind chimes?

They say merely ‘something is happening’
Good or bad it is the same thing

Until something drowns them out
Knocks them down or finishes

Happening their silence means
Not that nothing is happening

Because nothing cannot happen
Nothing is not phenomenal any

Wind chime could tell you but rather
That whatever may be

Happening is not moving them
Nevertheless they have enough

To say right now as cloud shadows
Chase light back into the sun

And knowing nothing really goes
Backwards I’m listening for the storm

To sing a song that chases
Rain faster forward into flower

Stillness in a Low Time

Stillness in a Low Time During the Rainiest Month of May in Half a Century

The cars approach and diminish but the road goes nowhere.

The storm stands across the street and says go.
Panic fans out.

The grass migrating without moving.

One blade bending to talk and the other
to listen … but to some other voice,

arriving from a distance. A voice with the tongue of a shadow
as if all this light traveling ninety million miles amounted

to a message smaller than a grassblade.

How small this poem must be in the field of minds!

I heard some people talking as they walked
across the wide green library yard, laughing

at a study suggesting that plants and trees
communicate. One bent his head toward the other,

whose face, angled away from the sun,
was obscured in the late afternoon shadows.

 

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.