Struggling to Write
My mind feels like a stone, hard, heavy in
the hand, refusing to respond. I fight
to quarry one more stone, one pebble, chip
of thought. My stone mind will not answer. It
lies smooth and silent, maybe wavering
a bit like stones in flowing water, gray
or brown or black. Perhaps I ought to let
it blossom on its own, stone opening
like petals, offering color, texture, scent
in its time, not in mine.
It’s been a hectic week, a hectic several
weeks. So nice to sit, no place to go,
familiar chairs and books and mess nearby.
The needle’s bluntly pointed tip slides through
the brown yarn circle; lassoed by more yarn,
it draws back, yarn pursuing. One more stitch.
The room is warm.
The photo is a lie, too quiet. You
can’t see this without motion, sound,
a smell of water in the air,
and dampness on your skin. Mosquitos
whining, too. It’s their home more than yours.
A steady stream of water pours
and sparkles past the lip of rock
that edges that pool on your left –
then, bored, decides to drip in four,
no, five, twelve wide spaced trickles – wait,
those two have merged…what’s constant here is change.
* * *
This particular waterfall is hidden away in the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania, in a little park, down a muddy trail. I took the picture in May, 2009 while standing on a bridge over the stream that flows away from the base of the falls. But the stone above applies to all waterfalls, doesn’t it?
A noise. Noisy dream. Why noise? Oh.
Alarm clock. But where is the dream? It must
have gone to hide there in those branches just
now coalescing out of the night sky.
Not night sky, dawn. It’s morning. Must get back to work.
I want to run. I want to run so long
and hard and fast it feels as if
my footsteps pushing backward make the world
keep spinning, run until I’m just
a pair of running legs with torso neck
and head all balanced up on top
as if my legs were jugglers showing off
how well their spinning plates can balance on
a stick. I want to run away.
Why I Can’t Get Rid of Those Cobwebs
To be a spider, you must not give up.
You spend the night, unsleeping, drawing out
your finest patterns, stretched so taut, upheld
by threads attached securely here and here.
A lovely sight. Your best work yet. And then
A giant with no love of art, no heart,
sweeps it away. Torn threads. A jumble where
there was design and beauty. So, you start again.
It’s Sunday. Kneel to pray and stand to sing,
the rhythms of the service soothe, preset,
always the same (at least if you weren’t in
the hall where final plans are improvised –
who’s here to read? do we have acolytes
enough?) – the Eucharist is coming, scrap
of bread and sip of wine, and does it mean
a thing? Yes. Yes, it does, a promise and
a danger, to be led beyond what you
intended, easy yoke, light burden, but
still yoked; but easy, light. At last, we’re sent
“into the world in peace, to love and serve.”
Who knows what love and service might demand?
Our lives? Our selves? All that we have, or are.
The snow remembers. In the night
a rabbit came this way. Its long
back feet left vees to say that it
was here. And over there, a line
of dots commemorates a squirrel,
or else perhaps the local cat.
I leave no tracks. Instead I pick
up shovelfuls of snow and toss
them left or right before my feet
arrive. A tropic creature, wrapped
in shirt and sweatshirt, coat, gloves, hat,
pretending to be warm, erased,
unwritten, from this snowy history.
(And yes, I found myself composing this one while outside shoveling today’s inch of crusted-over wet snow and hoping the freezing rain doesn’t start up again. The animal tracks looped across our yard.)
Today, I’ll Lie
The world is striped this morning, white
snow balanced on dark branches, cold.
I’m tired of writing about cold.
I think I’ll say it’s sand, white sand,
this street’s a beach with hot bright blazing sun,
I’ll claim the world’s turned upside down to let
our north end of the earth get summer now.
My Mother’s Cat Greets Visitors
He comes to meet us slowly, thinking hard,
with eyes and ears and nose. He holds his tail
cautiously straight and level, looks and sniffs –
“Oh, people, good! But wait. I don’t think – No.
I don’t know them.” And through the cellar door
(kept always open just as wide as him)
and out of sight. Then safe at last he twists
exchanging head for tail and peeks at us again.