Remember the world of water?
remember the meadows,
alive with garter snakes
and the rain?
virga that never reaches ground—
remember the world
alive with the sounds of
water in motion —
we will tell our grandchildren
about this world
on desert nights
under an arid moon.
THE DESIRE TO BECOME A STORM
(after Arnaldo Roche’s painting by the same name)
Thin women think they have power:
they use their bodies to manipulate.
They expose their skinny legs,
lift weights with their skinny arms,
show off their skinny butts.
I am a woman of a certain age
and well past worrying about
what others think or notice.
I feel the dark earth
between my stubby toes;
the wind cools my body;
I hear the green rising in new corn.
I don’t want to float, cloud-light—
I desire to become a storm:
heavy with fat raindrops;
shocking as lightning;
and round with thunder.
Berkeley Poets’ Dinner First Place
(Poet's Choice), 2006
IN THESE OBLIQUE HOURS,
I count the moments, curling away
like wood shavings or peeled apple skins:
the days turning-in on themselves.
Mondays twist into February,
Noontime swelters into August.
And before I collect the memories,
Wednesday has melted into September
and my work is still undone—
notebooks and poems, still unfinished.
Somewhere on the far side of the globe
the sun is setting. Even now, that line of dusk
races toward me across the Atlantic.
I take up my pen and try to capture
dawn as it whispers
in shades of violet just beyond the Sierra.
But the moment slips by.
I try to describe seven white cranes
rising from the bypass like incense or prayers.
The day advances on me,
surely as I hear October breathing—
all the dead waiting for me at midnight.
ALL THE WORDS FOR WONDER
The moon burns a cold hole
in the sky tonight,
igniting the shredding clouds
in shades of rust and sulfur.
Sleep won’t come
under such a sky as this,
thick with portent:
somewhere a night bird cries.
The ghostly owl sways
in the top of the slender cypress.
A distant train whistle calls. Twice.
No, sleep won’t come,
no matter how many times
you count sheep, or blessings,
or all the words for wonder.
CROSSING LAKE BAIKAL, SIBERIA
Each of us follows a path,
treacherous as fractured ice,
into unseen futures—
away from untraveled pasts.
Make no mistake, nothing is new.
This ground has been trod before;
this air, stirred in the lungs
of those long dead.
In spite of the long cold wind,
a howling across the steppe,
we are not alone in this journey.
Look for footprints. Listen for prayer.
(first pub. in Brevities, April 2015)