VERMONT, FIRE SEASON: a triptych

VERMONT, FIRE SEASON:  a triptych

~after Kari Hansen

It started low,

in the swamps. The red

flames smouldered, skipped,

 

spread to the hillsides,

the streets and gardens

of every village. Orange.

 

Near the end, it died

to an amber that flickered on 

over the white and gray.

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APRIL SUNRISE: VIEW FROM THE POET’S WINDOW

APRIL SUNRISE: VIEW FROM THE POET’S WINDOW

~after Emily Carr

Purple pillars and crossings,

fine traceries of lavender 

against blue-black. Just visible

through a window framed 

on the right by a spent

Christmas cactus, a patch of white,

promising gold. 

 

Where the owl blended 

into the ash at sunset,

there is no owl, 

just a feather-shaded

space where she sat 

regarding the grubby garden 

just out of sight.

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.