OAK AND MAPLE and FOUR LITTLE POEMS

OAK

Drop your leaves for now.

Stand alone in the cold,

squirrels sheltering

in your hollows.

 

Under your feet,

forgotten acorns already

swell, each holding

your pattern encased.

 

Length of day, 

strength of sun, 

depth of rain, 

the air, 

 

the axe,

your future 

contingent 

on the world.

 

 

MAPLE

Sweet ladies in green, 

whispering secrets, 

flirting with birds, 

drawing sugar from the sky.

 

Bold ladies in scarlet, 

throwing their favors 

profligate to the winds, 

the soils, the streets.

 

Skeletons of ladies, 

cracking 

their knuckles 

in the night.

 

Generous ladies–

oh how generous!–

filling our mouths 

with blood made of light.

 

 

4 little poems

1.

You see what is there:

the dying trees.

What can the sun do?

The wind?

 

2.

Learn to worship dirt,

to worship water.

Under your feet is

every thing you need.

 

3.

Do not waste your mind

on the future.

All you have is seed

to plant today.

 

4.

At the end, abundance

of distinction. Like human

hands, no duplication.

Every loss a loss.

Winter Prompt #13: PRONGS

PRONGS

Winter Prompt #13

We raised our wands and remembered—happiness.

Not easy for us, whose families were marked,

who could do things sometimes with a careless word.

 

The time Mother made me a chocolate cake

for no reason? Fetching firewood in the forest

with Dad, and he taught me to drive the tractor?

 

Making love on the stony hilltop, with hawks

floating above us on their way to warmer lands?

I raised my wand again, and again.

 

All around me those beings of light springing:

deer, otter, fox, crow.  Don’t get mad.  (Easy for you

to say, who can summon the dead.)  Keep trying.

 

Late that summer night, climbing over the locked gate,

crossing the railroad bridge, silence everywhere,

rounding the darkest corner, fine rain

 

clinging to the pines, then the circle of light

around the lamp in the parking lot.  Exspecto

again, and from the tip of my brittle pine wand—

 

(Ah!  That’s why it chose me!)—

a meadow vole rises, carries me

to safety under the long wet grass.

Winter Prompt #9: Ice Jam

ICE JAM

Winter Prompt # 9

I like it for texture—

gravels, the chunks of rock

like glacial rock carried

from the hills,

from the cold sources.

And twigs broken

by autumn winds

or winter winds.

Some years—this year—

limbs and trees, too—

the old overhanging willows

that couldn’t hold on

and fell and were carried.

Dead things have been

dissolved, or mostly

dissolved into nothing

but a tang, a crunch of bone.

DNA

DNA

I spat into the tube and sent it off

and now I know:  I descended from a

crabapple tree. A nettle by the river

was my grandfather, but the oak I call

Grandmother is not an ancestor at all.

The snapping turtle I moved from the road,

the wolf spider I met in the garden

scurrying away with her white egg ball,

are second cousins. I am part fox, stillness

on the edge of the meadow. I am part

owl, passing on silent wings. I am thrice

removed from an otter, four times from a deer.

Catbird is my brother—I knew it all along.

We sing the same cobbled-together song.

‘QASIDA

‘QASIDA

November. I drove through the woods alone.

The chapel had not changed—yellow stone,

pine benches, carven altar, the wide, worn

boards of the floor, pale ceilings adorned

with stenciled flowers. I watched the sun

mark the walls with pattern as it shone

through the western window, low.

Once this was a shelter from the storm

around us.  Once, with you, I won

what my heart desired. But you are gone.

On the forest paths, in shadow, once we roamed,

no need for touch or speech. Some

nights we sang by the lake while moon-

light and starlight from heaven’s dome

brushed us with silver. My voice, a golden horn,

blessed the stones with song. Oh, none

but I can praise our music well, or write this poem!

Free and wise and fair were we, born

between the mountains and the sea, who turned

the wild wood into home.

 

The Qasida is an elaborate form. This is a feeble attempt.

LEAVES

LEAVES

 

The tree is dropping her leaves to save

herself for winter. She has nothing

to do with me. What’s the point in saving

things? The trees don’t.

Everything they need now

is underground. I will not be defined by

souvenirs. Between the pages of books

I no longer read, old leaves crumble to brown.

Memory is sepia.

Turn the leaves to ground.

November Writing Challenge # 13-15

. . . because I’ve been thinking about it for a few days. With sincere apologies to the ghost of Samuel Beckett.

 

Cast:

Walker: tall & thin … he has salt & pepper hair … he walks, gazing up & away from the road, always … never looking ahead, behind, or down

Bigfoot

SCENE:  A road, with a single evergreen tree just to the left of center.  Bigfoot is sitting on the ground under the tree. Walker enters and stands beside Bigfoot.

 

8767 (cat typing) Bigfoot:  Nothing to be done.

Walker: Oh, well, but perhaps. . . Have you seen her?

Bigfoot:  No. Have you?

Walker: I have not seen her.

Bigfoot: She is not in the sky. I do not believe that she is in the sky.

Walker: The last time I saw her, she was in the sky. It was a sunny day, a shiny day. Five crows flew together across the road, flying in the same direction. North. The wind was from the south.

Bigfoot: What was she doing then?

Walker: With the crows. She was flying with the crows. Her arms were outstretched and her hair was flying like crow wings.

Bigfoot: Will she come back?

Walker: She will come back, so I am watching for her. All the time I’m watching for her.

Bigfoot:  I, too, am watching. Not in the sky. I am not watching in the sky.

Walker:  Are you happy now?

Bigfoot: Now? No. I am unhappy. Since the wind shifted to the south, I have been unhappy. The south wind carries the scent of oranges, and the scent of oranges always makes me cry.

Walker: Ah yes. Oranges. But is there not a scent of lemon?

Bigfoot:  No lemon. Not yet. Not this time of year. I’ve been thinking about killing myself.

Walker:  Will you do that?

Bigfoot:  Perhaps. Perhaps if I do not see her. Or if I do not see the crows. Or if the wind does not change.

Walker:  The crows will return. I am sure of that. Crows always return. Perhaps they will not be the same crows, but they will be crows,, flying hard through the sky. When the wind changes, you will see that there will be crows.

Bigfoot: Then perhaps I can live.  He stands up.

Walker: Will you go on?

Bigfoot: I might stay here. I might go on. Are you going on?

Walker:  Yes. I am going on. It is time for me to go on. The wind is changing.

Bigfoot:  Is it from the north?

Walker:  No. It is not yet from the north. This wind is from the south west. Tonight, maybe tomorrow, the wind will blow from the north.

Bigfoot: I think the smell of oranges is diminishing.

Walker:  Then perhaps you can live.

Bigfoot: Then perhaps I can live.

Walker:  Are you going on then?

Bigfoot:  I think I am not going on. I think I shall stay here. He sits down. I like this tree. There is an essence of life in this tree.  Perhaps if I stay here she will feel encouraged to return. Or the crows will be encouraged. In the meantime, nothing happens but the scent of oranges diminishing.

Walker:  Perhaps you could go on.

Bigfoot: If I go on, will something happen?

Walker:  Your feet will move. That is something.

Bigfoot:  But is that enough?

Walker: I do not know if that is enough for you. For me it is enough.

Bigfoot: It would not be enough for me. I shall stay. Until the wind changes, I shall stay.

Walker:  Do you have an umbrella?

Bigfoot: I do not have an umbrella. Should I have an umbrella?

Walker: Yes. You should have an umbrella if you will stay until the wind changes.

Bigfoot: For what reason?

Walker: When the wind changes, you may open the umbrella and the changed wind will take you somewhere else.

Bigfoot:  Is something happening somewhere else?

Walker:  Sometimes something is happening.

Bigfoot:  I do not have an umbrella. Perhaps I should go along. He stands.

Walker:  We could look for her together.

Bigfoot:  I could look on the ground and between the trees.

Walker: I will continue to look at the sky. I think she will come from the sky. When the crows return.

Bigfoot: When the wind changes.

Walker:  Yes. Shall we go?

Bigfoot:  Yes. Let’s go.

 

They do not move.

Curtain.