Pick up a woolly bear.
No naked skin which squirms,
No wet or stains on you, no bite to scare
you, just a tickle from his quiet curl of fur,
Ah, the beauty of his black and brown—
Now gently, put him down.
The full November moon
fell on all the trees last night,
The shadows of their trunks
aligned and stretched across the forest floor.
Inside each shadow black, white
crystals grew on fallen leaves.
Two thousand grackles swept the sky like ocean waves,
swirled as one around the grove three times and sat,
curved oak branches down with black and sudden leaves.
And then they spoke, all at once.
Tiny castanets began to clack from grackle throats
while rusty hinges swung and squealed from deep inside.
The sound washed over me, and ebbed, and swelled and ebbed like ocean breaking on a shore. The grackle surf broke loud on me, and broke me into smile—They know how to keep alive the waves they fly, and turn them into sound.
The full November moon was haloed glory
on both ends of the night,
the darkness is so long and turning cold.
When dawn falls up the hazy sky
the pond is skinned with ice, leaf-boats frozen in.
The young squirrel curls his tail tightly to his back.
Mourning doves are puffed up and pouty
with the cold, necks pulled in, and bodies
large, like kids suddenly wearing goosedown parkas—
but these parkas are of dovedown.
The feet of bluejays leave no footprints on the frosted deck,
but the warm pads of squirrels melt–in, to begin
the long winter's mapping of their scurries.
A small gray feather near my door,
one side darker, the other close to white.
The center rib shines with light
At the base of the quill a bit of down,
from there up, a perfect curve and groomed.
What beak kept this preened and smooth?
How did this gray glow leave the sky?
At the Feeder
Sleet and snow and wind combined
to slosh the world last night.
Now, in sleet and rain and dim undark
A chilled chickadee hurries to eat the sun
caught up inside a sunflower seed.
Whether it's behind the clouds or bright,
we all consume the sun to stay alive.
The skies have gone to gray,
leaves and grass have gone to brown.
The trunks of trees rise up dark
in this November light,
but on their bark the lichens
brighten me with quiet greens and gold.
A stiff wind and cold,
I pushed into it a mile,
knew that when I turned around,
I'd be pushed along too fast
by the wind's strong clear hand,
a little kid again, feeling silly all the way.
Wild tom turkeys on my deck,
checking out the feeder—
The patterns of their feathers
spread into my eyes
all the Autumn colors
gathered into harmony.
Yesterday I glanced out the window to see two tom turkeys looking back at me. They jumped off the deck and strolled away while I found my smile.
A dove sits on a round stone
below the feeder. Composed,
feathers in place, she
Sculpts patience into cold rain.
Barred owl perched above the feeder,
His stare swivels round as his eye.
He looks for voles,
ignores the squirrels.
Soon jays will harass him,
or crows drive him away—
From morning's hush to the noise of mob.
Discover what it is:
The strong being
without flesh, without bone,
without blood, without vein,
it carries without hands.
Headless and footless it travels the earth,
at home in the ocean,
at home in the desert,
at home in the forest,
at home in the storm.
it was not born,
but it can grow,
it is not seen,
it cannot die
Today is Leaf-Dance Day. My take on an ancient Celtic riddle.
A touch of falling snow
on every bark and bush,
white crystals cupped
in empty warbler nests.
Soon the snow will grow
to bury this year, and prepare
to melt into the next.
The squirrel's tails twirl and twirl—
they race up and down the trees
in a furious chase, stop
to screech and whip their tails around,
each hair standing on end—
How do they stay so mad?
They wind-up their wrath with their tails.