When I hear them call in the morning, before I am quite awake, my bed is already traveling the daily rainbow, the arc toward evening; and the birds, leading their own discreet lives of hunger and watchfulness, are with me all the way, always a little ahead of me in the long-practiced manner of unobtrusive guides.
By the time I arrive at evening, they have just settled down to rest; already invisible, they are turning into the dreamwork of trees; and all of us together — myself and the purple finches, the rusty blackbirds, the ruby cardinals, and the white-throated sparrows with their liquid voices — ride the dark curve of the earth toward daylight, which they announce from their high lookouts before dawn has quite broken for me.
Weekend: a country custom, a century old, English in origin, secular, elite, depended on railway schedules for its ritual: breakfast in silver warmers, tweeds till tea, tennis or crocquet when there was no hunting, dress for dinner, billiards after port, later, adultery in upstairs bedrooms.
Now as the car turns willingly off asphalt and gravel stings its tires, we try our hand, Arriving’s, all the same, though all has changed. The buds have swollen: or the leaves have turned; the house is still surprisingly intact. An unlocked door will let the world back in groceries, canvas satchels, lists of chores.
Stop. Watch the maples bending in the wind tossing their boughs in summer agitation. Quick, before sunset, swim the salt creek that creeps up from the coast a mile away to hiss beneath the bridges, trickle through the swaying stalks of marsh grass, burdened with more nourishment than twenty tons of humus. Here one is happiest when not too clean.
Come on, walk barefoot over new-cut stalks of green lawn grass, pausing to wipe off the sticky blades that squeeze between your toes. Along the granite of the garden wall a hundred varied blossoms flash their hues of gold and scarlet, peach and ivory.
One skyscraper stands up among the lilies, brandishing blossoms like archangels’ trumpets— All while the thirsty grasses dream the day. Bend toward them. I can hear the tide of green engorge and stiffen, music in the blood, lifting sensation past the reach of time, mingling with the future. Come, let’s turn, let’s walk indoors and open up the house.
The storm is moving on, and as the wind
rises, the oaks and pines let go
of all the snow on their branches,
an abrupt change of heart,
and the air turns utterly white.
Woooh, says the wind, and I stop
where I am, put out my arms
and look upward, allowing
myself to disappear. It is good
to be here, and not here....
I see fresh cloven prints
under the apple tree, where deer come
nosing for windfalls. They must be
near me now, and having stopped
when I stopped, begin to move again.
You can find this in Collected Poems.
It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
You can find this in Thirst.
I don't want to lose a single thread
from the intricate brocade of this happiness.
I want to remember everything.
Which is why I'm lying awake, sleepy
but not sleepy enough to give it up.
Just now, a moment from years ago:
the early morning light, the deft, sweet
gesture of your hand
reaching for me.
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love letters written
before the dawn of time
in smoke signals
around in circles
to the touch
and binds us
hands and feet
as we set sail
on silver seas
we shape time
with a chisel
following the lines
of an afternoon
is a sculpture
from the lines
laid out to rest
on the bed
You can find this poem in In the Dark, Soft Earth: Poetry of Love, Nature, Spirituality, and Dreams.
Seven white butterflies
delicate in a hurry look
how they bang the pages
of their wings as they fly
to the fields of mustard yellow
and orange and plain
gold all eternity
is in the moment this is what
Blake said Whitman said such
wisdom in the agitated
motions of the mind seven
even as worms toward
paradise see how they banter
and riot and rise
to the trees flutter
lob their white bodies into
the invisible wind weightless
to deliver themselves unto
the universe now each settles
down on a yellow thumb on a
brassy stem now
all seven are rapidly sipping
from the golden tower who
would have thought it could be so easy?
You can find this inWest Wind: Poems and Prose Poems.