Saturday, April 26, 2014

We are that kind

w e  a r e  t h a t  k i n d

of town-bred country folk
that say, when asked, oh yes, we do keep stock,
then easily turn the subject to one side.

Some friend persists; she wants to know the worst.
"If you," I tell her, "want to do this, under-
stand: sometimes you'll have to take the place

of God." Our ducks, good Khaki Campbells, come
by mail in lots of twenty, every second
year. When small, they're all engaging, all

underfoot, following our steps with small
heartwarming cries. But half are drakes. In high
summer I don my serious face, and tie

with care my long blue apron on. I go
to the barn, butcher's block in hand, and like
the surgeon spread my choicest tools nearby.

The axe is first, and as its blade is rising,
I feel the panic rising in the eyes
hidden beneath my unrelenting hand.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


e m i l y,

you almost kiss
the bed with your small lips,
sipping night in these

surprising infant gasps
that hold a little life in you
for seconds at a time.

You sleep well, unless
the hour is cool, and then
you hunt for arms, and nose

to cold nose, tell silently
all you know into our beating hearts
until dawn comes.

I listen in fear,
for I suspect
that when I learn

what you are saying here between
your parents in the dark,
I will weep and mourn

our having brought you here
without your wings.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Where the wide waters

w h e r e  t h e  w i d e  w a t e r s

                                               roll, the fishermen
roll their nets and go to the sun, to the broad
boats, where light, dancing, leafs boats

bright in gold, and gulls cross, crying,
the scene, and cross again, complaining, where
the fish, deep-dwelling, wait. And waves

rise foaming, and the long swells' song
breaks like bread, or prayer, on the blood's tide;
all here oar-raised, green-psalmed, time-stopped

and the soul-strewn hulls gull-followed and gold-leaped,
arriving, see God's sung gifts named and given
into hands, working the nets, pull! And make

all things new, as the gulls ask alms, and the fish,
lashing, gape their salt breath out, and lie
still, communing. The wine-dark seas pass under,

and the heavy boats swing round, and the men roll
their nets and go, numb-handed, backs bent, harbor bound,
gift-laden, home: where light, fast fading, locks

land in gold, and gulls cross, crying, the scene,
and cross again, crying.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Took a piece of bread

t o o k  a  p i e c e  o f  b r e a d

                                                and wandered: down
to pools, to streams; examined the undersides
of clouds, swimming on their slow grey backs

in still water. These and the spring-bare trees,
and the winter teat of thawed leaf mould,
and the new birds on old nests, breast-brave,

egg-rich and cocksure, and the first fawn
mothered in close twilit last-year's bracken
say the old songs in the blood (again), the stories

and the root-songs sung to the wordless waters
passing these, through and among, to the sea:
we all do this, take breath and be not afraid.