I stood at the river's edge.
The waters listen to me.
It is part of their Summer to do so.
Someone is standing beneath a tree
Looking up at a great white owl
With golden eyes that stare back
Through a rain that has
The most delicate of hands.
A rain that can find the mouse
Beneath a cluster of oak leaves.
We know their names.
We are still afraid to say them.
There will be death if we say them.
A great fish passes high
Above this holy scene
And it isn’t noticed.
The wind grinning at us
Knowing how bitter everything
Will be the moment we fall asleep.
The river rising up into the rooms.
SPLIT AT THE SEAMS
They tore the threads out at the seams
And we spilled into the valley.
Some of us in the river.
Some of us in the fields.
Some of us in the air.
Some of us in the glitter.
Some of us in the woods.
Some of us in the fruit trees.
Some of us in the wind.
All of us in the song.
The singing louder than
The Spring frogs telling
Everything they knew
To the fog.
And the rays of sunlight
Piercing every moment.
THE QUICK GREEN
The green is quick on the ground.
Things dance when we least
Expect them to.
If you’ve business there, then bring
It on. And so does the sun
Each day and the breath pumps
Away looking for the charred one,
The place after the rapids
Where the river runs flat
As glass once again
And once again as clear.
I won’t be mounting any towers
To see the horsemen, now distant,
Now at hand, for I can
Hear as well as the next wind
And bring myself closer
To the fire, gather you in
My arms, begin to tell of the open ground,
Say again of the quick green.
THE YELLOW GOWN
I was sitting in the corner.
You were playing in the yard.
I tried hard to remember
If you could play your card.
The one they called the Queen of Spades
Seemed almost a perfect choice.
It would stop the boys from bantering.
They would listen to your voice.
I watched your face lit by the fire.
I rose and closed the gate.
The garden lamps were being lit.
I did not want to wait.
Deep as love might seem at times
It still makes us all bow down.
I let myself get caught in there.
I saw your yellow gown.
A lantern. Where else would
People greet you and ask how you had been?
What was that song anyway?
It seems to last and last
But it never gets sung.
So we keep life and death in our hands
And go walking through the Winter
Beneath that beautiful wing.
And no one can tell us anything
We want to hear and our eyes
Fill up with tears
And we can see ourselves
Walking away from the sudden
Town until all the world
Could speak of nothing but darkness.
HUSH, HUSH YOURSELF
It was the thick part of longing
Where you could feel your own hand
Touching the beloved.
A thin trace of scent in the air
That one cannot say what the little
Movement is and the sky is awash
With only the prettiest of flowers
And there is a joyous laughter
That stays upon the skin
Like some other being, an animal
That knows where you are going
And finds a way to be there
When you pass the property you know
As your own heart and opens a window.
You look in and can see a leg
Slide beneath the whitest of sheets.
Hush, hush yourself. Listen to the train
Whistles out on the horizon.
Surely you are going somewhere?
Why else would be carrying
On like this, lighting your own heart
On fire and rushing to the tops
Of the hills, showing it as if it were
A flag of some sort, a mouth,
A way of speaking?
I have spent too much time
With nothingness, I have felt
The waters, aways twisting, always
Finding some way to speech that discourages me
From probing too deeply into
My own journey.
It’s not like I don’t know
Where I came from or why
I am here working at the same
Wheel, moving what amounts to parts
Of my soul to make some kind
Of statement I can understand,
Hold in my hand, like a knife, or a sword,
Something to cut the jungle apart
Only enough to allow me to pass through.
I’ve been this way before.
I just never thought of you
Watching me from the shore
As I held the deck, trying to
Ride the great rapids.
There was only one way to go
And that was downriver.
I could never come this way
Again and there you were
On the river bank that night.
Your touch made the rocks look
Like monsters and the rapids
Spitting me past your point
On the rock.
I have no idea how you knew
We would be traveling this way,
But you did. I closed my eyes
To a red-violet that crashed
As sound upon my ears.
Yet I could hear each word
As it was spoken. You never shouted.
You never asked that I return
When we made it past the whirlpool,
The river turning 90 degrees right
Into an entire novel of new
Water, each with something deadly
To say about how we might
Find an understanding of each other.
Perhaps it was love of a kind.
You dipping your touch into the current
So only the moon could claim us.
You, white across the river mist and caught in
Very old tales where I had forgotten
Our names, the memory of our wanting
To finish this part of the journey.
The clarity of the morning star
Just above the bow of the raft.
A poignant knowledge
That all this might happen
Again even as we walked
Down a street in a city
Talking about an image we had seen.
How important it seemed
To everything we thought
Our love to be, from
What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.