The rounded top of a post
half-frosted after noon.
Annular rings are clear,
hard wood soft wood
cold wood warm wood
basin and range
Frost finds radial lines
dry color hides.
Spray outward 360.
Dry wood and icedwood
Seasons each day.
We wake the great hawk
from her high roost
in the canalside cottonwood,
delight tinged with regret.
After one look
the hawk turns away,
calls up her powers,
spreads wings and tail
to name herself,
cups air to lift herself gone.
She is Red Tail.
RufousTail would never fly.
Sun disk pales through clouds
that send a message dark
but not opaque.
This sky belongs to June
Can we still belong?
Shapes and scale confound the eye.
Snow and wind consort with flatland,
to sculpt ranges of mountains
in slow waves and sharp peaks,
a landorm elegance that shivers me.
If millipedes were out and about
every pair of legs would race to climb,
but millipedes are too wise
to pit long dark trains and scurry feet
against sculpted snow of any scale.
But if I shrink me down against this field
my eyes begin to plot a course
through tangled peaks,
on only one small pair of mini-feet, but
Darn! My macro/actual toes are cold.
Wind drives floating seeds
until they catch on a maybe
chance to sprout and grow.
Now, this branch.
If the right rain gets a seed wet
enough to fall; if a warbler
fills her beak with float fibers
and a seed drops from the nest,
maybe it catches soil. Repeat
a thousand times: green sprouts
will give chance a sweet run.
Rosehips bright against
wan winter leaves leap
red into each sense.
I can taste their skins.
All here that leaps is red,
hip and bark and bud.
Why does red so enter one?
Goethe: Red says Beauty
Blood: Red yells Attention!
Maybelline: Red is Hot
Ads:Red is quick to Focus on
Shrinks: Red is Belonging
I’ll go with Goethe and Blood,
and one scoop of Belonging.
Say there was a water sprite
who lived a lonely stream,
Say she saw a summer butterfly
and once one autumn night
memory made her dream
a lyric butterfly in ice
perching on a stick just
above winter water dreamed.
That afternoon I hiked the trail
cold even in the bright,
when a red squirrel perched
elegant on a bench, stood
paws against his nibbling jaws,
tail a lush red S against late sun.
He dropped his food, flashed off,
left on the bench his acorn.
Looked nutty good but I stayed
my hand. I let the acorn be
to its likely watching owner,
walked off through chill shadows
warmed by my grin of virtue.
The great river is frozen near its banks.
Caught in the ice is a strange figure:
a rower in a swamped boat.
Broad-beamed gunwales still visible
suggest that the rowboat is afloat,
though full. The figure’s pose
suggests that she still rows, or did
until ice trapped her in tableau.
Do I see the river’s memory
echoing of loss through time?
Or memory of land the river passes,
the homestead she set out from,
old footings lost in berry brambles?
My son Owen smiles from his dinghy
as he motors off to fetch his family
from sailing vessel Madrona.
Absence makes the heart
grow fonder, it is said.
I sing agreement through
my Elder-travel fog.
I’ve not seen son nor
grandkids for a sailing year.
Marquesas, Tahiti, Tonga,
and always mother Ocean.
How has exotic South Sea Islands
and sailing Ocean entered them?
I know my brief months at sea
long ago sprung my heart wide,
along with Rachel Carson’s
book “The Sea Around Us”,
the enveloping wet aroundness of
Mother Kali here, Mother Durga there.
Children and their children.This elder has little history with grandkids, so there is no faintest hint of ambivalence, only love, but our children have their histories with us, and we with them, all quite different.
Ripples and reflections occupy spring waters,
occupy the depths among the willow roots.
Hard to find within reflections’ dance
the ripple’s core. What splashed?
Basho’s frog, plunked in again?
There is no sound save loud spring wind
that slopes down to mirror-pond and stirs
one twig that sprawls across a fallen branch
and dips just into the center of the ripples
in the mirror and, tip wet, vibrates there.
A twig in wind. A butterfly in China.
How can we know the chaos from the dance?
All I’m sure of in this moment is the pair of dragonflies
flying in tandem around the pond,
releasing tiny eggs round as ripples just above the glass.
Some will fall to minnows, some to larvae, some to mud
to hatch and crawl someday up a stem to split husk
and stretch wings of netted mica round the pond.
One day in wind the larval discard husk will
drop from stem and make its ripples there.
The treetop chorus sings loud
now in Northland, New Zealand.
This male sang, a female came,
they mated. Past use, he died
and fell to the forest floor,
where my grandson rescued him
from ants and carried him
with care to my camera.
This green, these wings veined
red and green, this gorgeous
wonder to my human eyes--
I wonder, did his mate see him at all?
Or was it only his volume of song
compared to the rest of the horde?
Lady Walking Stick clambers about in flowers,
improbable legs adroit at grasping
whatever they touch, be it bud or stem.
If she had remained still, she would be
invisible, red lilies my eye’s priority.
I am loving her like a longlost friend,
her cousins on my land poisoned so
city folk many miles south will not
have to hear mosquitoes whine
their delicate ears.
Wonder and awe of life are now
an inconvenient heritage to give our children.
Is there no beauty left untinged with sorrow?
Still, this adroit climber here among
red lilies, elbows and akimbo knees will
climb and grasp always behind my eyes.
May she find the sweetest leaves to savor.
White-faced herons fly in
to hunt the mangrove flats
of the Haruru estuary at low tide.
The herons hunt small lives that
retreat into mud burrows
at low tide still water-filled.
They stalk the mud as my egrets
stalk a pond, necks stretched,
eyes bright, ear drums tight,
need and family one
across pre-human Earth,
A tongue fern root
down low to ground
where it was not bright,
so it found a stump to climb
to ease its thirst for light.
Up high it grew two
tall green tongue leaves
and knew its climb was right.
A periodic monster with bulging eyes
rests upon its foreleg claws
while amber light pours through.
It is a tricksy shell cast off,
the exuviae of Cicada risen from soil at last,
propelled to mate as are we all in light or dark.
Cicada chooses light to sing this once
upon the tree whose roots fed it in long dark
where now the female slashes twigs
to insert her eggs to hatch in safety.
Nymphs will drop to soil and burrow into dark
as Earth wheels round Sol for turns enough
for bulgy eyes to form in dark prepared for light.
The Pied Shag gives us a baleful eye
as he races low beyond our sails.
Bay of Islands water raincloud green,
wind is strong, a topsail moves us
well enough along, but rain is light,
birds’ fishing fine:
gannets plunging from the sky,
shags surface diving, coming up
with beaks wiggling full of silver.
Note: ‘Shag’ names one group of cormorants,
esp. in New Zealand, where in Maori they are named Karuhiruhi.
1.30.2012 Australia flight today, so a recycled poem.
At Taos pueblo,
a door, adobe wall, a ladder,
a mop, a dog asleep.
The mop put out to dry
drapes a post.
Behind the ladder,
a window, turquoise trim.,
Beside the ladder the plain
six board door
The black dog sleeps on his side
in front of the door,
near his head a hand-sized wedge of rock.
Branch rungs on the ladder
through-mortised into juniper uprights
Like all the Taos ladders,
one upright is taller by a foot.
Asymmetric. Wise for climbing down,
a post to hold while
your foot swings out to find the rung.
The dog has found his shade,
the mop its place to dry,
the door has found its weathering,
the ladder knows what it is doing,
and sun has found and made it all.
My first wild parrots flew in
flashing backs of green.
In the tree they added
beaks and eyes of red,
faces fuzzy blue, bibs of red
bled into gold. Thus does
Beauty name its tropic kind:
From Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, Australia
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