With Time

Wind is erasing the hills this morning,

blurring their lines with a white mist

of lifted snow, the northern sky

an imperturbable blue. The turmoil

of air is not its business. I kneel

before Quan Yin, her four arms

hold a lotus, the braided loop of infinity,

and two hands touch in the sign of prayer.

I contemplate the suffering in this world

and ask for relief. It blows like the wind

lifting snow. It sweeps around the earth

like a silk veil, this exhale. In and out,

breath and wind, darkness and light,

living and dying. It goes on with us

and without. These bones settle on the cushion,

in the body, compressing like the rings of trees,

rooted in the neutral, ever changing earth.

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Compelled

Outside, the snow collapses

on itself, water finding water

that way it has of shifting shape

and staying the same. The river

roars its full-throated runoff,

wicking away what falls.

The arc of light slants higher

across our hills, days longer

by seconds. Still, it’s winter.

In this quiet expanse of white

lit life, we fall into our own

slant of time. Bones resting

on bones that spark in bright

arcs of pain. You paint. I write.

Fire pops in the grate its long held

breath of rain. Water moving

everywhere, compelled

to start again.

Walking the Familiar

for Sage

When the horses hear us coming,

they nicker and whinny

across the white field stubbled

with grass. I stroll with you

along the frozen road, the sky

low and gray as smoke.

 

As long as we move, you sleep.

The stroller wheels spin you

into their spell. Your lashes

are stars on your cheeks,

small constellation.

What dreams, what lives

remembered, in your slumber?

 

The river moves whitely in the air.

Mist settles over the hills,

their snow-flocked trees

patterns of light and dark.

 

It’s the month of your birth,

December, month of ending.

The archer shoots his arrows

of fire into the coming night.

Too soon you’ll walk on your own

path, no need for me to follow,

then, behind me, wheels

turning over the familiar road.

Coyotes Sing when They Kill

From the hot tub

I see the deer

atop the northern hill

a small herd

big racked buck

in silhouette.

When I look next

they’re gone

but the song goes on.

I soak under the gray

shadowed dawn

the world awakening

to its hungers and griefs

their calls companion

to my solitude.

Later, in my room

kneeling in prayer

for this life of love

and loss I hear them

still in the rapture

of communion.

What they take

Oh Lord of light

and dark, sustains them.

Would that it were so

for us.

 

Morning Quail

Feathers pose a question
bobbing blackly on his head,
and all day, he calls who? Who?
At dawn from the Ponderosa
he lobs his query at me,
roused from sleep, dreams
a shadow of wondering
who I am today. In the dim
cocoon, my body curls
into the fetal answer: head,
heart, tail. A fern unfurling.
I am this and that. Between
waking and sleep a tenderness
opens for his seeking.

Uprising

This morning, mist lifts
in ghosting sheets
from wood and grass
as frost becomes
something less solid.
Up from hay, garlic shoots.
And buds on the still naked
trees glow like a memory
of childhood. High
beyond reach, each one
pointing toward the sky
or tomorrow, rich with
color and scent yet
nascent. There’s fresh
snow in the northwest,
peaks beyond peaks
that beckon whitely
in the morning light.
All the greening comes
out of the freeze the way
what we let go rises,
stubborn and free.

Offering

Light snow. The juncos perform

their slow choreography in the pine,

one at a time at the feeder,

the basket of suet. Never

a duet of feeding. They’re formal

in their morning coats

and black caps. Light

as the air that bears them

bough to bough then off

across the frozen yard

where they merge

with grey February sky.

 

The empty tree lifts

its bowed branches

offering paired cones

to the weather. Snow

heavier now. Silence rises

up along the river valley.

Nothing to be done

but live and listen.