Yawn, oh great cloud break
not witnessed in the pre-dawn
The breath of owl song
a thread through trees, pushing soft
making sound-cut spaces
Tilt of the orbit
positions a planet near
closer to the moon
The woman pauses
never noticed that before
Looking up, surprised
There are slim chances
brief windows, prime conditions
sap rise, season shift
the thrust of diving hawk flight
cutting through the fields
unspool the wires
use the hammer to break glass
open up the line, please
She felt it, knew it
Somewhere over the mountain tops
where Chance is slow born
Full crowning takes years
and it’s easy to forget
we are in birth-time
dailyness of days
the whirlwind blur not seeing
but, moving forward
Sometimes the movements
are small, stuck tight round and round
some motion skitters
There are tangles, traps
vines of kudzu, busy
pull back your shoulders
throw your fist in living air
you are really free
Find moments of breath
to see the shape of wind waves
carve dances in trees
The gods sleep gape-mouthed
Crawl in like a dream, settle
as a prayer-thought
They will wake with you
in the turning of the winds
the spinning of time
when widening luck
and rich configurations
clear the space ahead
Also worth noting:
It is muscadine season again. This one is a bronze variety, a rare double grape.
This palindrome felt like good luck. The number 99 bracketed by the 3s that multiplied make 9 – a very satisfying arrangement.
To plant nasturtium
bury the seeds deep to wait
away from all light
Soak them in water
if you want to play like God
mimic the spring rain
the way the hulls look like brains,
You don’t know just yet
what color the blooms will be
only that they will come
at least you hope so
pushing finger, tunneling
making birth canals
A cluster, no rows
the edge of the fence, near gate
stretch of sunny days
unfurl like sweet promises
of orange, maybe red
You pull the grass rough
grimace and claw, rip, tear, pop
How can I tell you, my dying mother
that you will turn to a bright comet soul
upon death, when the body becomes other
a wish to stay is the most futile goal
Your gaze to the edge of the field is long
hands clasped tightly, holding luminous ropes
“What?” she says, “I will miss life. Is that wrong?”
the mortal’s love spans all lands of false hopes
Yet, I am certain that with final breath
you will see, your eyes untethered at last
it’s true: the dead miss nothing upon death
we all become like comets flying fast
The falling star does not cling to the night
even unseen, it shines then dies bright
To say you are the bones of your old hands
metacarpals, nails bent, a dying liver
the blood and substance of ancestral lands
in veins that cross flesh branched as a river
to call yourself by the knots of your spine
looking in the mirror at the face you know
not catching reflections, simple lines
the arrow fallen away from the bow
You are convinced that the name they gave you
bundled mass of cells and new beating heart
is somehow yours eternal and most true
from which you can and never will part
Your real name is a whisper on warm wind
the chorus of all ever to ascend
[i am learning about sonnets, and appreciating that there is a proper form of things that one must learn before taking liberties in breaking form. I have made notes lately. I will share them soon. I feel like I need a whole day to write. A whole week. Maybe a whole life.]
I have been tired this week. On Sunday, I did a 15 mile hike with my son and my friend. 3000 feet of elevation gain over three miles at the beginning of the day, moving up through mountain-side rhododendron at a 50% grade, noticing how the exertion made me feel angry, how I was resentful of the route my son had planned. That was just my mind, doing what minds do – which is find things to be unhappy about when things are challenging, focusing in on threats and difficulties. I tried to pay attention to my breathing and keep it steady, in through the nose, out through the nose, deep deep breaths to get all the way down to the lower lobes of my lungs, to nudge my parasympathetic nervous system, to stay calm and not panic.
Breathlessness can be a difficult sensation for me.
When I was six, i ruptured my spleen in a fall from a leaf swing on Christmas Day. The breath was knocked out of me, but we didn’t know that I was really hurt until an hour later when I was laying on the couch and could not breath due to the press of spilled blood in my internal body cavities putting pressure on my lungs. During my adolescence, I would have frightening episodes of not being able to breathe if I was nervous or making out with someone, and several times I went to the emergency room where they put the pulse ox monitor on my finger and told me that I was fine, that I actually could breath.
It took me a long time to wonder if my teenage attacks of breathlessness were connected to the trauma of my injury when I was 6.
There were spiderwebs in all the branches going up the Green Mountain trail, small cups of webs holding dew scattered all over the ground. There were no spiders, only webs – hundreds and hundreds of them catching the light of the morning. I tried to take pictures, but spiderwebs holding dew are one of those things that really can’t be photographed in a way that accurately conveys the fragile, eerie beauty of a meticulously created object that will only exist for a brief moment of time in the sun of a new day, that might not be seen by anyone else.
After the first mile of nearly straight-up climbing, the trail leveled over small sections of ridgeline, and the rhododendron gave way to laurel that gave way to Fraser fir and red spruce, dying hemlocks. The ground was covered with reefs of moss and the spongy duff of needles fallen over many years.
The trail was a big loop that crossed through ridge top conifer forests that were dark as twilight and opened out onto balds covered with late-season huckleberries, drying grasses, and whole sloping fields of goldenrod that swayed in the air from the small winds made by the wings of bees and the weight of wasps landing on the yellow flowers whose color is the clarion of summer ending.
Since that hike, I have been tired. I woke up anyway. Everyday. Got up to go to the track at the middle school to run silent circles in the dark of early morning before any faculty arrives at the school, to center in breathing and see the stars, to listen for the screech owl and to watch my own thoughts, to try to not think.
Work has been uninspiring lately, with nobody showing up for the workshops I’ve been doing, nobody showing up for the listening sessions that I organized and promoted. It’s like the universe is telling me: nobody cares about you doing this. You are wasting your time.
This morning, I considered the possibility of staying in bed. It rained all night and is raining still. I had dreams about my grandmothers house with the porches sheered off and the roof painted white like the walls and the azaleas growing up gnarled and thick against the trunks of dying oaks, a set of gas pumps installed in the small field by the fence.
I’ve dreamt of home a lot lately, the landscapes I grew up in – river and pasture, dirt road. These places are always changed in my dreams, never mine anymore.
There was a phrase in the early morning:
the waves will not remember
That has 7 syllables. I will need to add it to a haiku if I can find two 5 syllable phrases that are worthy of it.
The hull breaking them
Blood mixed with water
There are so many words.
I have made verbal declarations lately. I want to be a poet. I need to learn. To take myself seriously. To study. I need to have a singular focus. To work at this one thing, to set all other professional endeavors aside to the extent that I am able to.
This is something I realized running in the early morning, which I think is becoming part of my writing practice, to run and to think without thinking, make a quiet space for what I know to surface and become clear.
Last year, I entered a contest to quit my day job and pursue my dream job – but, I didn’t really know what my dream job would be, and I’ve spent the last year figuring that out, trying different things, feeling out the viability.
All I am, most truly, is a poet.
I don’t care what I do for money, so long as I have space and time to write.
Writing and paying attention and memorializing the ephemeral, trying to document the lessons that are imprecise and quiet truths that come to me in the early morning, being amazed at the ways that tree tops hold themselves, the patterns of the rain…these things make my life worth living.
My elder cat is dying. A cancer in his stomach. This morning he had what looked to be a tear caught in the fur by his right eye, and I wiped it away, rubbed the tear between my fingers until it dried.
I ran today in rain and looked up smiling and eyes closed as the cold water hit my face, hit my eyes.
I am so grateful to be living.