tanka

tanka--
small songs I sing
to join
my voice to other voices
hidden in the grass

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sometimes at Night


 
Sometimes at night the words
run through my mind
like sparkling water.

I cannot sleep but do not care
to stop the flow
even if no-one hears

except the trees
whose roots I hope
one day to enter

when my body and my words
are turned to ash and rise
through tiny channels in the wood

to write at last
with sunlight in the book
of many leaves.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moss



Inside
the broken bottle’s throat
and the white glass jar
that once held some healing unguent—
moss has grown,
making a green cushion
for the roots of wintergreen
with its tiny red berries;
making
out of dappled light,
a faint rustle of air,
an accidental splash of rain,
and the pulse
of its own invincible cells
living and dying
in their ancient, nearly audible
and undoubtedly musical
rhythm
a thimbleful
of absolutely new
and nourishing
Earth. 

Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poems, XIV: 3, Spring 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Flying Blind


How exactly the wren’s body fits
the palm of my hand.  How smoothly
the fan of the wing opens and shuts,

the windward edge of each gray feather
laddered with brown and gold.
The bird’s head hangs limp,

her neck snapped in the collision
with a wall she never saw—
one eye is missing.  Yesterday

I touched a half-blind goldfinch
at the feeder, feasting on thistle seed
and unafraid. With side-set eyes,

a bird can see at once both crumb
and kestrel; the loss of an eye’s the loss
of half the world.  

Once a girl
sat in a green meadow
with an open book; a one-eyed

sparrow settled on her knee,
and stayed, cocking its head
and preening--and there settled

over the girl a sense of being
as solid, as rooted, and as trusted
as the limb of an oak

and therefore capable in turn
of trusting the unseen
half of things.

Sixty years on,
I see my life’s been less
like a tree

and more
like a half-blind sparrow
blundering through thickets.  

Which is why I gently place
the body of the wren
between the white oak roots,

the soft buff belly-down exposed
and the clenched, reptilian claws
extending toward the sky.

Pinesong: Awards 2011  (North Carolina Poetry Society)