–then everything else which turns off at night
is the switch that turns on the crickets
is there a thing at all in cricketsong
that means I remember
that bridges the slow heaving wave
of frozen ground between years
is there anything
by which they know they go on
do they need to when they hear
with their legs by which they leap only forward
and sing with their wings which cannot take them backward
what else must a cricket do to prove it needs
behind my house at night I forget
I am in a city the song is so loud
like the earth breathing in and out
the owl marking his territory in the pitch dark
is absorbed into the song it seems impossible
there could be as many crickets on the ground
as there are cricket voices in the air
till the sun climbs over a rock and shuts them off
in the morning which is the switch
for ten thousand starlings to fill the space
with another season–
In the walnut branches the birds of September begin to gather.
Late August. Empty chairs. My mind’s dinner guests.
The woman who bought the house next door pulled up the ivy
on the property line, and with it tore the bird-hollow branches
of the butterfly bush from their roots. And with that
the flying leaves of fall whose nature is not to fall will not
find my front yard. They who could bear thoughts of enormous weight
over great distances. Now I must take this thought
far up in the sky, where this poem will cast the shape
of it, its shadow only, on your mind’s green ground.
I am exhausted, ready to drop it all, when I see
I am carrying nothing. Down below you have found
a perfect place to plant a butterfly bush. It’s late August.
On the back patio the empty chairs await the arriving guests.
On Drinking a Portuguese Wine on the Last Night of June
This is how the month tasted, too. Full and lush on the front,
a vacation rental that is not too big or expensive but rich.
On the back, like the sound of surf slipping through the sand,
the taste of something going away, complexity escaping completion, dry on the tongue.
In the bonfire I see something that would eat even death.
So death must not be made of air after all.
I see summer’s bones smoldering long after the flame.
The seasons curled like scrolls of verse around each other collapse.
We have one of these every month, the landowner tells me.
Just from the stuff that falls away.
The one who stands in darkness while the other watches the sun set
will be walking in the morning sun while the other kicks off a fitful dream.
At a certain point it will make sense to gather fallen branches.
To dream wide awake of a motion that will eat even death.
On a long journey. The road darkened like glass
after the candle behind it has guttered.
I met the forest there like a corner rounding everywhere.
Birds who’d never heard themselves before were asking
for their names. Though we could hear the train beyond the ridge
we knew it was empty except for a woman anxious
she’d missed her stop as she dozed. We walked but I could not hear
your step behind me over the sound of the leaves growing.
I am tracking a number in the dark. It keeps changing typeface
to throw me off the trail but it is the only set of tracks ahead of me.
Even as I slow down I am accelerating. Your own footsteps
are catching up to me but I am afraid the number ahead will tire
at last and I will catch it, panting on a hip-high rock among the pine.
I should go back to the woods in the daytime, who ever thought
you were nocturnal, and in the light splaying
among the leaves I am not afraid of numbers.
In the Month of Your Birthday
Mid-afternoon storm hours behind me, on the walk home.
Slight breeze triggers rain in the maple, cascading
leaf to leaf in the layers of small shadowed sky, not a memory
of rain but the actual rain, retained, in the vast shadows, actually
falling, and isn’t memory an actual thing moving in a real space,
and like the rain in this maple, not touching the ground.
Thoughts As I Wait for the Thunder Moon to Appear
Chuang Tzu asked, why is what the world does worth doing?
The thunder moon which I cannot see teaches me that it is unavoidable.
Regardless of all that I know and do not know, it is launched without slowing
over the clouds. As the arrival of clouds cannot be avoided, neither can the departure
of clouds. It may not be worth doing, Chuang Tzu said. And yet
it cannot be left undone. I am looking without seeing, Chuang Tzu,
and it may be enough that I am no longer looking for the moon.
In the quiet, unseeable, the small chicory flower unfolds towards dawn.
As the departure of life cannot be avoided, neither can its arrival.
When the moon’s no longer needed, clouds break open like blue petals.