WALPURGIS NACHT

WALPURGIS NACHT

Last hold of winter, grip of dark and cold,

our times of gathering close by the fire.

Tomorrow the maiden will strew flowers,

tomorrow the furrow, the scattered seed.

But tonight, once more belongs to the old

who know to sit quiet and count the stars.

Blessed sameness in the passing of years—

mountain snows flowing from river to sea,

trout lily leaves poking out from the mould,

rhythm of courting and birthing and tears.

Shall we gather tonight on the mountain?

Shall we sing together the last winter hymn?

Already the children dance by the fountain.

In the light of the sun, our fire grows dim. 

Winter Prompt #20: Bivouac

BIVOUAC

Winter Prompt #20

Whenever I look, I see you twice.

The tent in the forest by Texas Falls

and the couch where you go

those nights you can’t sleep.

The rocky lake shore

in the moonlight and wind

and the chair where you doze with the cat.

This double vision is a peculiar

blessing to the old,

living as we do in many places

with so much behind

and so much less ahead.

 

Winter Prompts #2: How love is different now

HOW LOVE IS DIFFERENT NOW

Winter Prompt #2

For a baby, love is a breast,

for an old cat, a sunny soft chair.

A dog wants to know

what you want her to do,

a teenager, just that you’re there.

 

And then, when you’re old—

an old person, that is—

love’s more than excitement and sex.

It’s a laugh and a tear and a good hand to hold

while waiting for what’s coming next.

MOONS

MOONS

 

1.

New moon at sunset,

caught in the branches of the oak—

Full moon at midnight

dazzling the skin of snow—

Thin moon before dawn

rising in Earth’s darkest sky—

you are the sign

of every woman growing old.

 

2.

All myths repeat themselves

in vision and in dream—

Now that I am waning

into the crescent C—

Cry, Crone, Crypt—

I am convinced:

every myth is true.

 

3.

Artemis, moon-bow of my youth

bends back into the winter dawn

and comes to me where three ways meet.

Her lamp casts shadows on the way.

She gives me one of her hounds—

a small yellow dog who watches crows,

wild dog who understands what death is for,

who wakes to foxes barking in the dark.

REUNION

REUNION

Was it spring of 67 or 68 when we cut

class to bottle Phil’s beer? 68 because

you were out of the dorm, into that house

with the blacklight bathroom. The artist

who made all those death masks only

we were still alive. Our faces done in

plaster tape. We drank it all, didn’t we,

before graduation, the night we played

charades in the park. Phil sang so

loud the cops came and sent us home.

He married her—the artist, I can’t

remember her name. Somewhere

on the Cape. All those masks. Remember

the bonfire? Masks and class notes.

Hundreds of masks, or at least dozens.

Hanging in that bathroom. I’d like

to have one now, that plain white.

The plaster heated up after awhile.

Trusting somebody so you could breathe.

Phil was at some museum last I heard.

Maura. He and Maura didn’t last,

but we all knew they wouldn’t the way

she fooled around. The pink dotted-

swiss bridesmaid’s dress I tossed after

the wedding, and she was an artist.

Empire waists so we all looked

pregnant. I guess some of us were.

Funny you can be someone’s brides-

maid and lose touch and even forget

her name. Maura. Funny to be

with old friends and know, all

of a sudden, that we’re old.

BIRTHDAY

BIRTHDAY

I wasn’t born yesterday.

~The Way of Mrs. Cosmopolite, T. Pratchett

 

I was born years ago in a snowstorm,

butt first, which explains my perspectives:

right is left, north is south, and so on.

There’s something, too, about winter,

blowing snow that blew itself

into my bones. There are things

you won’t understand

until you are so old

that no one alive calls you children.

The patterns, strangeness of passages,

the way the long corridor winds,

edged with fewer doors.

NOTES FOR MY 50TH  HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

NOTES FOR MY 50TH  HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

 

Once I read Latin, long phrases from Caesar and Virgil.

Now I practice Polish, but only after dark.

 

Once I played the piano: Mozart, Debussy, Bach.

Now I play simplified Gershwin songs when no one is around.

 

Once I had a small vegetable garden.

Now it is a jungle of vines and weeds.

 

Once I fell in love with a warrior.

Some things never change.

 

Once there was no space for anything.

Now time stretches before me like the sea.