Meditation on an empty field
The winter field’s as many colors as kinds of loss.
It gets no bigger but grows every year.
There’s still sweet green, scuffed gold, brown verging
On yellow. Things beneath with code for new color.
Where the digging root took deep hold, maple and oak:
Identifying grief is like recognizing trees in winter
In this season of missing. Look closely.
There are months to learn them all. The wind
through this one is my name, your voice.
Conversations (XVI) — to the first snow
From a mostly blue sky
A few stray flakes sink.
But the vultures don’t fall —
More weightless than air
Drifting with a gray horizon.
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
Sometimes it’s the other way around,
though most times the winter sun does x off x
by which I mean, you glimpse it baring the soul
of a whisper of empty branches or scrolling a message
across exhausted snow crusting a street corner
and you see reality, suddenly, not in a new way but an old
way in the way the winter sun is old, it’s been burning
so long after all maybe you think not with the heat
it had as a younger sun when everything grew green
beneath its gaze till a hemisphere turned its shoulder one
season and that was it, but sometimes it’s the other way
around, things can be cold and burning at once,
sometimes reality sees you, and it’s blinding.
Warm Breeze, Mid-Afternoon in Mid-Winter
At the walnut tree’s highest reach
the day’s breeze sets twigs and thin branches
tense like frantic lost messages, last waves goodbye
but the slur slows through the random knots
and twists of the limb structure and’s spread asunder
further in by the outward-reaching limbs and widening
resolve of main branches to the absolute breaking
of leftover negative space: down where I am, humming
a tune I heard my beloved sing and will not forget,
just my voice in the quiet, here at the trunk where all is still.
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.
Unseen rain four hours away on the black horizon.
While you focus on the empty branches above your head
the stars blur into overcast, a milky blue apology
the child within me will not accept.
The Cape Cod inlets flow through him
like the roots of these trees thread mountains.
He is a trick of the light, of beach grass and sand.
And now the days are too short, he will never get home.