The late afternoon sun,
Coming in low across the birch
Trees and the liquidambars
Making their yellows and reds
An adagio of sorts, as if it burned
What little warmth left in the day
Into our eyes, allowing us to wonder
At the quick change toward early
Dark to hazed fog balanced in its night,
Had found itself locked in the high
Bedroom two floors above the bread-
Smell kitchen, unable to leave the room.
Perhaps the room thought it was an ornament
That belonged to it alone, or that
It was a dance, some unknown overture
That needed to be confined within
The room with its bed and dresser,
Its white linen curtains and bed
Clothing, but it held on
Well into the late hours when I,
Going to bed, noticed it trying to
Escape through the smallest of spaces
Between the door and the floor.
I entered the room, and in the quick
Moments before it fled, I saw
The dread it carried for the coming
Months of Winter, even as it spread
Itself across the furniture and begged
The light to release it. Reflections
In the small mirror, cutting the edge
Of the photograph of the young couple
Taken during the Second World War,
Clipping the curve of the pillows.
Roving up the edge of the partially
Opened closet, furious to leave
The room and end the day.
It flowed around and over me,
Flashing against the banister,
Catching the mullions of the windows,
Spilling the night back into the room.
The room was empty.
One could hear heartbeats.
That was a good idea.
It kept anyone from speaking.
Our bodies began to lose their way.
We kept looking to the windows.
They were filled with faces of those
Who knew us at one time of our lives
And are now gone but haul themselves
Across our souls, trying to fit us to clothing
That was never our own. The confusion
Causes children to pour into the room.
“Give us this poem, fool,” the voices say.
They sound like pixies and pull at my clothing.
“You have no idea where this poem will go.
It will push past you and whatever you might know.”
A few of them bit at me, catching at bits of my soul.
I lifted the poem high in the air, close to my face.
I could see the room, still empty, but with a curious
Glow moving through it. The poem was still alive.
I could see our bodies floating toward the doors.
“We must leave this poem now. No good will come
Of it. It tells us only of confusion.” I forced myself
To look up. The air began to fill with the most beautiful
Birds. They began to speak in their bird voices and I knew
We would be safe but that we must leave the poem
Immediately. I pulled the pixies from my clothing and skin.
I found the door partly ajar and squeezed through
The opening. The dawn was just arriving with its lamps
And the smell of food being cooked for a breakfast.
We hurried toward where voices were rising
With the morning light. I can tell you no more.
Know this was not a dream.
CLASH BY NIGHT
The armies had just begun
To work. The air strikes
Had been called in.
The bombardment had begun.
The wind was in the trees.
I was on my knees.
I found myself asking please,
Please, please stop the clowning.
I have broken everything in the room
And probably my own heart,
Certainly not yours.
I could see the light switchblade
On your sling-back high heels
And watch the little fires,
As you walked away, turn
Into tiny wings that made no sound.
DROP A LINE
A slight reflection noted as sound
Upon water, then an uplifting of wings
That slid into the shadows over some
Reeds the evening had just settled itself into,
Gathering its collection of shadows,
Red-violets and wistful birds songs.
“You won’t be going there tonight,” he said,
Pointing toward the tallest stand of trees.
“There’re hungry animals out there. We won’t
Take a chance of losing anyone.”
But the moon will be out later.
The breeze is so gentle it feels made
Of dreaming and silk memories.
I pack my small bag and head for
The tall dark. “I’ll try to find out
What’s just over that ridge and be
Back by morning if I am able.”
No one says not to go but no one
Follows. At the edge of the light
I discover I am able to fly.
THAT THE MOON
That the moon doesn't care for Spring.
That it doesn't fill itself out as an announcement
That a season is coming. It has its own games,
Water, the blood moving through mammals,
Huge hatches of insects making another music.
Still it shines brighter than all else in the night
Sky. It opens the earth itself in rain or clear
Light and gives names to the waking of the ground.
No matter where we go, if the night is open,
Clear, and the course of this spinning planet
Is open and not just showing off the stars,
There she is, her royal majesty, directing everything
From the top of the night, not caring who or what
Sees her light, the llama races or mischief
In the eyes of old magicians somewhere in Mexico.
Slipping through the fog above the Great Lakes,
Holding court before the Northern Lights,
It is still the moon, careless and reclining
On the whole of our sky, with us always loving it.
We too are sailors who seize
Upon the idea of the unknown.
It comes to us as a naming,
As siren songs in the willowy depths.
We think the salt spray our tears,
The shoreline, the edge that keeps
Us from loving the rise and fall
Of swell after swell, the shift
The stars take along the twinkling path
Here we can truly be alone.
Touched by the wind, the slash
Rain makes upon us, lining
Our faces with season upon
Season, the circling of morning
After morning, the way we embrace
These great seas we can only
Live upon and never dwell within.
We walk among the glimmer
Of the cocoons of dreamers,
The pulsations of fractured light
Right at their calm, the high
Notes of the harmonies.
Now come the distances
Where the morning is miles away
But it too glows and draws us,
Even if it be fire,
Unrelenting as light to moths.
We will travel to get here.
I will exclaim. We are able
To gather like this once again
And I will sing the praises
And I will bow before you,
And you will hold me and touch
Me with your hands and I
Will weep so deeply that freedom
Will seem like a thought of
Bells upon a mountaintop.
We will soon discover
That we indeed are those dreamers,
That there is no understanding.
We spin our way toward waking
Once again and we use our
Memories to do so; the flashing
Northern Lights are our very
Breath, even as we touch one
Another. If this has held
Your attention, thank your own
Precious soul and the dancing
It does across this sorry page.
The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And all through the sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for his poems and pix as his recovery continues, slowly but surely.
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